Tuesday Jolt: Chopp Gets Big Union Endorsement
The day's winners and losers.
Today's Winner: State Rep. Frank Chopp (D-43, Wallingford)
Today marks twice in a little over a month that the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 21, one of the most progressive unions in town, has left City Council member Kshama Sawant's Socialist Alternative Party in the lurch.
A key moment in this year's $15 minimum wage negotiations came when UFCW 21 signed off on Mayor Ed Murray's deal, taking momentum (and potential funding) away from Sawant's potential 15Now ballot initiative.
Today (and speaking of sapping momentum), UFCW endorsed Democratic speaker of the house Rep. Chopp in his reelection campaign; Chopp is being challenged by Sawant's ally, former 15Now campaign leader, and SAP member Jess Spear.
The endorsement announcement praises Chopp for his "leadership" on paid sick leave (which passed the house quickly, though it stalled in the Republican-dominated senate), the minimum wage (which actually tanked in Chopp's own house), and a list of other workers' rights bills the Democrats ran last session and UFCW believes Chopp will put in the queue again, including one to limit mandatory overtime for health care workers in particular. (Chopp refused to bring the house Democrats' minimum wage bill to the floor last session; we interviewed him about that decision here.)
UFCW does cite some bona fide legislative wins from Chopp's tenure: Apple Health for Kids, Medicaid expansion, and the DREAM Act, for example.
No mention, though, of some other recent Chopp-supported legislation, the $8.7 billion Boeing tax break, which Spear is making an issue out of on the campaign trail. Asked about that bill, UFCW spokesman Tom Geiger said the "political reality" was that the Boeing union, business, and the governor were all for it.
In an official statement UFCW 21 President Dave Schmitz said: “Our political priority is to find progressive leaders who will put the interests of workers above the interests of corporations. We don’t take any endorsement lightly. Frank Chopp has a proven track record supporting working families and is clearly the most likely to make good new laws and take advantage of this moment. We strongly endorse his re-election. We stand with Frank Chopp."
Another noteworhty leftist union, IBEW, which endorsed Sawant in her successful 2013 city council run, endorsed Chopp over Spear in May.