NYC's largest union endorses Maya Wiley in mayoral race

NYC's largest union endorses Maya Wiley in mayoral race

New York City’s largest union on Friday threw its support behind the mayoral campaign of Maya Wiley, a former MSNBC analyst and legal counsel for Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioNYC officials recommend masks indoors, but won't reimpose mandates Rep. Suozzi to run for New York governor Oversight panel eyes excessive bail, jail overcrowding in New York City MORE (D), giving her bid a shot in the arm in an unwieldy Democratic primary field. 

The endorsement from the union, Local 1199 of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), marks one of the first announcements of support by a major labor group in the mayoral race, which has already garnered about two dozen Democratic contenders. The union was a chief endorser of de Blasio’s 2013 bid, which helped burnish his argument for electability in a similarly broad primary battle.

“Maya Wiley has the experience and vision needed to move us forward, and to reimagine what our city can be when working people have access to the tools and support needed to live with dignity,” said George Gresham, president of 1199.  “Maya’s priorities are our priorities — from investing in and fairly compensating our caregivers to rebuilding our economy through job creation and training.”

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The SEIU chapter’s backing is a major win for Wiley, who is polling in the top tier of the crowd and trying to bolster her progressive bona fides ahead of the June primary. Local 1199 represents more than 200,000 health care workers, including many women of color and essential employees who have continued working through the pandemic.

The union touted the need for Democrats to recognize the impact Black women such as Wiley had on the party’s successes in 2020, including taking back the Senate and winning the White House, a message that can go a long way in a city that has never elected a Black woman as its executive.

“The story of 2020 and the transition of power cannot be told without acknowledging the political power wielded by Black women. Maya’s leadership embodies that same power and will undoubtedly take our city and communities to new heights. Black women have shown up for us. It’s overdue we show up for them. When Black women run, we win,” the union said in a statement.

The union said it will work to mobilize its members to vote for Wiley, a key aspect of the endorsement that will help her as the coronavirus pandemic limits campaigns’ abilities to glad-hand with voters.

Beyond strengthening her electability argument over other top candidates like Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, city Comptroller Scott Stringer and former presidential candidate Andrew YangAndrew YangPoll: Harris, Michelle Obama lead for 2024 if Biden doesn't run At 28 percent approval, say goodbye to Kamala Harris being Plan B to an aging Biden Adams wins New York City mayor's race MORE, the endorsement could help Wiley recover after New York’s campaign finance board announced she had not qualified for the city’s 8-to-1 matching program, which could have filled her coffers with $2 million in public funds. 

To qualify for the program, a candidate must raise at least $250,000 in donations of no more than $250 from at least 1,000 city donors. Wiley’s campaign maintains it is on track to qualify for the program.

She touted the endorsement in a statement, saying she will support the union’s members should she be elected mayor.

“We know who cared for us during our darkest days; the same people who kept us safe, fed, clean and cared for even during our bright ones. Now, it’s our turn to care for the caregivers,” she said.

“The hard-working members of 1199SEIU know what it means to care and to fight for a city that cares. As mayor, in my City Hall, the voices of frontline workers and unions will be as loud and as powerful as the pots and pans celebrating these essential workers at 7 p.m. every night this past spring,” she added, referencing celebrations of essential workers.