Mayoral candidate Jenny Durkan scored a big win Wednesday night at a monthly labor meeting, when the Martin Luther King County Labor Council endorsed her for the general election.
"The Martin Luther King County Labor Council defends the rights of working men and women across our city every day, and I'm honored to have their endorsement. I will relentlessly fight alongside them for the living wages and the rights of teachers, electricians, city employees, and every other worker in our city," Durkan said. "Seattle is at a crossroads with our city changing rapidly, so we must work together to cultivate and protect jobs with robust worker protections and living wages so people can afford to live where they work."
The labor organization gave dual endorsements for Bob Hasegawa and Jessyn Farrell—neither of whom advanced to the November 7 general election. Others who received some support? Durkan (including SEIU Local 775) and Nikkita Oliver, but not Cary Moon, said MLKCLC leader Nicole Grant.
Here's what Grant had to say about the endorsement.
What went into the decision-making process on whom to endorse?
"We have a pretty elaborate democratic process. One is an opportunity to interview the candidates, ask them questions that affect workers and their quality of life. Our candidate forum, that was basically our interview. After the primary, looking at Durkan and Moon as the two that advanced, it was a pretty easy decision. Our executive board met and passed a motion to recommend Jenny Durkan for endorsement.
Our final endorsement's made by our full delegate body. We had our meeting (Wednesday night), and I would say all but a few voted to support Durkan. She showed up, which was nice, and gave a speech. She asked, 'Who did not support me in the election? Please stand up.' A lot of people stood up. She said, 'All right, who did endorse me? Why don't you join anybody who's standing. This is how I want it to be. We're all standing together, and I'm going to stand with you.'
She's got a great resume. They're both successful white ladies in their 50s, but Durkan's really got the resume as the U.S. attorney under President Obama, whereas Moon's credentials just weren't as strong and we just didn't know her as well."
Was Moon at labor's monthly meeting (Wednesday night), where you endorsed Durkan?
"She was not there."
There's been some backlash on social media about endorsing the same candidate who's backed by Chamber. Could you respond to the criticism that business and labor don't mix?
"I think that Seattleites, including our members, want business and labor to mix in this city in a way that's progressive, and we're defining progressive America right now in contrast to the horror that's happening all over our country. This is a time where I think people really want unity, and they want to come together, and I think that showed at the polls that people are not afraid of having a strong woman, lesbian, bring people together and lead. People want an experienced attorney, they want somebody who has broad support from labor and business and the environmental community, and unite the city in a way that distinguishes us from the racist disintegration and economic disintegration of so much of the rest of the country."
Without business there's no labor, and without labor there's no business right?
"Yeah. The feeling that labor and business are at war is a feeling of despair, and after we've won on the issues that we believed in, after we've won on issues like the minimum wage, after we've won on securing workers' rights ... you don't want to be a sore winner, you know? You want to be a partner."
What do you say to die-hard supporters who really didn't want Durkan?
"I don't think Cary Moon had a lot of die-hard support. So I mean, if we're talking about the candidates that advanced in the race, I think there would've been a lot more controversy if one of our endorsed candidates had advanced, for instance Nikkita Oliver, who has a very powerful grassroots movement that fought for her and brought her very close to advancing. That would've been a more complicated conversation."
And what do you say to labor members who were die-hard supporters for other candidates who didn't advance?
"I just think the time for engagement is now, that the time for voting and caring and advocating for what you believe in is right now. Everybody who supported Jessyn Farrell because she was such a well-known transportation leader, her history of transportation choices in our community, everybody who supported Bob Hasegawa because they believe in reform for revenue in our budgets, they need to fight for those things and for Durkan to deliver on them.
That's the commitment that she's made when she really fought for our endorsement She wanted it bad and she got it. Now's the time to work with her and see if we can be successful on these issues."
What's the next issue labor's going to take up?
"During times of extreme economic growth, questions of equity are really highlighted. I think there are a lot of feelings with regard to the construction boom. We've got this big cement strike ... it's an unfair labor practice picket and it's a question of equity. Is all of this growth and wealth for people at the top, or is it for our city and everybody?"
Any bills you're pushing for or keeping an eye on?
"For this year, one thing that we're focused on is legislation around KeyArena and making sure that the transition for public entities is going to protect workers. The MOU is going to be released in September. That's a place where we want to make sure that everything's being done in a way that elevates our city, elevates our workers' rights and (protects) their ability to earn a living wage, organize democratically, and have a voice."