South Bay Labor Council Speeds up Endorsement Process for Mayor’s Race

Dave Cortese’s announcement this week that he is running for mayor of San Jose, more or less, sets the field for next year’s race. He joins San Jose councilmembers Pete Constant, Sam Liccardo, Madison Nguyen and Pierluigi Oliverio, as well as several lesser-known candidates. (All apologies, David Wall.)

Candidates have been calling around for months to gather support, and the first campaign kickoff party took place last night, when roughly 800 people attended Liccardo’s fiesta at SP2 restaurant and bar in downtown San Jose.

Campaign fundraising can’t officially start until December—as City Attorney Rick Doyle warned in a memo—but endorsements are right around the corner. In fact, the South Bay Labor Council has taken an unusually early approach to finishing its endorsement process for mayor.

Questionnaires for the SBLC’s Committee on Political Education (COPE) are due today. According to sources in and around the process, the SBLC sped up its endorsement process to get formalities out of the way. Cortese is without doubt labor’s preferred candidate for mayor, and an early endorsement could allow independent groups to begin the process of organizing committees and raising funds, or in some cases collecting union dues, in support of him. There is an expectation that something similar will occur, or already is occurring, on behalf of Assemblyman Paul Fong, who will be running for San Jose’s District 1 council seat.

San Jose Inside has attained a copy of the SBLC questionnaire for mayor, and here is a sample of the 59 questions:

• Do you support the contracting out of public services?

• Do you support final and binding arbitration in collective bargaining and negotiations for public safety employees who do not have the right to strike?

• Do you believe that the San Jose City Charter provides for a binding arbitration process for public safety employees that is fair for all parties?

• Would you support the implementation of a Labor Compliance Program (LCP) to enforce the payment of prevailing wages in your county?

• Do you support the use of card check agreements as a way for workers to decide on choosing a union? Will you publicly support calling for card-check in National Legislation, i.e. The Employee Free Choice Act?

• Do you support the requirement that all employers be bound to the terms and conditions of an AFL-CIO Building Trades Council Project Labor Agreement on construction projects where government funds are involved?

• What would you do to improve employee moral at the city? [sic]

• Would you support the ongoing investment of city/county resources in a program to enroll and insure all children throughout Santa Clara County?

• Do you support replacing the current healthcare delivery system in California with a “single payer” system and will you publicly support legislation to that end?

• Do you support access of women to comprehensive reproductive services, including the right to choose abortion services, in every health care delivery system?

• What are you doing in your city to provide safe access for medical cannabis patients?

• Will you support requiring a specific percentage of affordable housing in every major specific plan or area plan in the city with the exception of those covering exclusively non-residential land uses?

• Do you support focusing the police departments efforts on deterring crime in your community instead of targeting law-abiding immigrants through partnerships with ICE that make police/sheriffs de facto immigration agents?

The questionnaire also contains a pledge candidates must sign to only use AFL-CIO approved vendors during the campaign, which would likely be a non-starter for some of the candidates. Here is that pledge:

I agree to use union services as defined under the Labor Council’s Union Services Policy during my election campaign and for all personal political activities during my term of office.  I further understand I may call upon the Labor Council for information and assistance on this subject during my term of office.

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1. Union Venders: All affiliated AFL-CIO unions, friends of labor, and endorsed candidates/office holders will be expected to use union vendors when any services are paid and not donated, when union venders are available as determined by the Central Labor Council.

2. Boycotted Vendors: No AFL-CIO union, friend of labor, or C.O.P.E. endorsed candidates/office holders will be given authorization to use a vendor which appears on any authorized AFL-CIO “Do Not Patronize” list.  Said boycott listing is to be considered as a perpetual picket of a vendor.

3. Donated Union Vendor Services: If union vendors donate any services, the South Bay Labor Council should be informed of such, prior to any utilization of such services.

4. Donated Non-Union Vendor Services: All AFL-CIO affiliates, friends of labor, or C.O.P.E. endorsed candidates/office holders are expected to contact the South Bay Labor Council to request permission to use “Labor Donated” non-union vendors.  In most instances, requests for exemption must be made no less than thirty (30) days prior to the use of said services.  If exemption is warranted, permission may be given only be the Business Manager/ designee of the South Bay Labor Council.  Permission will only be given if evidence can be furnished to prove that the labor was in fact donated to the affected party.  This provision is not to be interpreted as a requirement to give exemption in all cases nor that any exemption is automatic.

5. No Mandate To Require Services Not Planned: Nothing contained in this policy shall be construed as authorizing any union to require the use of a type of vendor service which was otherwise not contemplated by a party.

6. Penalty Imposed: Any AFL-CIO union, friend of labor, or C.O.P.E. endorsed candidate/office holder who does not follow the above policies may be subject to action by the Council including but not limited to censure and/or removal of any endorsement.

Josh Koehn is a former managing editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley.

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