Now that Labor Day is over, we journalist types really start paying attention to election stuff. And in the special election to replace Patrick Dowd as Pittsburgh City Councilor in District 7, we have some news right out of the gate:
Three locals of the Service Employees International Union are backing Deb Gross, who is running as the Democrat.
The unions in question -- SEIU Local 32BJ, SEIU Healthcare PA and SEIU Local 668 -- represent janitors, healthworkers, and public employees. Their backing comes as little surprise. They've been closely allied with Bill Peduto, who is the likely next mayor of Pittsburgh, and a supporter of Gross. Gross was also visible at a Labor Day rally championing the SEIU's efforts to unionize service workers at UPMC.
The full statement is below:
PITTSBURGH—The three major local unions of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU Local 32BJ, SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania and SEIU Local 668) today announced their endorsement of Deb Gross for City Council's 7th District. "Deb Gross has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to neighborhood-based sustainable development that puts the environment and working families first," said Gabe Morgan, Pennsylvania Director and Vice President of 32BJ SEIU. “Our members are proud to support a proven leader who will work with the incoming administration to ensure that working people share in the economic growth of our city."
Gross, a community development expert adept at balancing the needs labor and business, was a natural choice for the locals representing over 65,000-property service, healthcare, and public service workers in Pennsylvania.
"Deb Gross is the leader we need to work with our next Mayor and continue the community-wide effort to hold UPMC accountable as a purely public charity,” said Neal Bisno, President of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania and International Vice President of SEIU. “She understands that as a nonprofit, an institution as profitable as UPMC has an obligation to respect our community by paying its fair share, opening its doors to all patients, and respecting workers’ right to form a union."
"We're proud to endorse Deb Gross for City Council," said Kathy Jellison, President of SEIU Local 668. "Her lifelong commitment to community development and economic fairness make her the best candidate for the working families of Pittsburgh."
A special election will be held Tuesday, November 5 to fill the vacancy left by Patrick Dowd in City Council District 7, which includes Bloomfield, Friendship, Highland Park, Lawrenceville, Morningside, Polish Hill, Stanton Heights and the Strip District.