Thursday, March 5, 2009
City Councilor Tonya Payne picked up an endorsement from the Service Employees International Union and other labor groups in her bid for re-election.
The SEIU, which represents custodians and other service employees, was an active participant in efforts to create a Community Benefits Agreement for the Hill District. The CBA is an effort to ensure that the Hill shares in any economic benefits generated by the new Penguins arena.
Payne, who represents the Hill and other areas Downtown and in the North Side, supported the CBA. And in a statement announcing the endorsement, local SEIU head Gabe Morgan praised her for working "tirelessly to support working families in City Council."
Also supporting Payne are four other service-sector unions -- Teamsters Local 936, United Food and Commercial Workers, UNITE HERE and the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 95.
The announcement also praised Payne for "advocat[ing] for wage standards and right-to-organize requirements in several other development projects." It noted too that Payne supports the federal Employee Free Choice Act -- a measure designed to make it easier for workers to organize a union.
Payne is facing Daniel Lavelle, who is chief of staff for state Rep. Jake Wheatley. In addition to being aligned with a political faction opposing Payne, Wheatley has been critical of the CBA process. In remarks to CP last year, Wheatley characterized the CBA as "a terrible deal." In a subsequent discussion, he told CP that "[o]ne of my major struggles in this [CBA] conversation is, how much of an outside influence are unions who have ... a certain need that they want? ... Let's see how long they stay at this table to make sure this community benefits."
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