Democratic state Sen. candidate Pam Iovino snags several union endorsements | News | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Democratic state Sen. candidate Pam Iovino snags several union endorsements

Iovino is running in a special election for SD-37 that will take place on April 2

click to enlarge Democratic state Sen. candidate Pam Iovino snags several union endorsements
Photo: courtesy the campaign
Pam Iovino
Labor unions hold significant sway in Southwestern Pennsylvania, and today Democratic state Sen. candidate Pam Iovino picked up more than a dozen endorsements from local unions, including Allegheny-Fayette Central Labor Council, United Steelworkers, the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, and other area labor organizations.

"We are proud to endorse Pam Iovino, because with her record of public service we have no doubt she is going to put people first,” says Allegheny-Fayette Central Labor Council president Darrin Kelly. “She is a partner with labor who will stand up for us in Harrisburg, and make sure it is easier for Pennsylvanians to join a union, raise wages, protect pensions, and fight for worker rights.”

This comes in contrast to her opponent, Republican D. Raja, a local software business owner and Allegheny County GOP chair, who has a history of labor violations.

Iovino, of Mount Lebanon, won the Democratic nominating committee hearing last month. She is running in the April special election for the state Senate District 37 seat, which was vacated when Guy Reschenthaler (R-Jefferson Hills) was elected to U.S. Congress. She spent 23 years in the Navy and retired a captain. Iovino also served as assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs under President George W. Bush.

Iovino says it means a lot to have the “unified support of the labor community.” She says standing up for working families will be a top priority of her campaign.

“Labor is the backbone of our region, and it is because of the labor movement that we have so many of the worker rights and protections that are often taken for granted,” said Iovino.

Kelly, whose organization is the largest labor consortium in the region, says the choice was easy to get the labor community to back Iovino. He says Raja’s history of labor violations is “concerning.”

In 2004, Raja’s company Computer Enterprise, Inc. (CEI) was issued an $133,000 fine by the U.S. Department of Labor for failure to pay minimum wage and overtime to his 72 domestic employees.

“That is extremely troubling,” said Kelly. “In a race like this, we expect potential legislators to come into the senate as working-family friendly. That is not something that is very common, someone who has the federal labor violations running for Pennsylvania senate.”

Raja campaign spokesperson Adam Breneman says the federal violations are being misinterpreted by the Iovino campaign, who is using them in an ad against Raja that says he was “forced” to pay the fines to the federal government.

“In a routine audit years ago, the Department of Labor determined some professional sales employees, many making over $100,000 a year, were misclassified,” say Breneman of the violations. “This was changed and CEI willingly made corrections. CEI was never ‘forced’ to do anything.”

He says all employees at CEI have always been paid well over the minimum wage.

In terms of Raja losing out on the region’s union support, Breneman says CEI has been involved with many area nonprofits and that CEI has created 500 well-paying American jobs with Raja at the helm.

The special election is April 2. SC-37 is comprised of sections Western and Southern Allegheny County, as well as Peters Township in Washington County.

The full list of Iovino’s labor endorsements is below:
  • Allegheny-Fayette Central Labor Council
  • PA AFL – CIO
  • SEIU State Council
  • American Federation of Teachers - Pennsylvania
  • United Steelworkers
  • United Mine Workers of America
  • Pennsylvania State Education Association
  • Laborers District Council of Western Pennsylvania
  • AFSCME Council 13
  • Firefighters Local 1
  • IBEW Local 29
  • Keystone Mountain Lakes Carpenters
  • Plumbers Local 27
  • Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers
  • Sheet Metal Workers Local 12
  • Teamsters Joint Council 40
  • United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1776