UFCW Backs Gustavo Rivera in Race Against Fernando Cabrera

State Senator Gustavo Rivera. (Photo: Facebook)

State Senator Gustavo Rivera. (Photo: Facebook)

State Senator Gustavo Rivera, a Bronx Democrat facing a heated challenge from Councilman Fernando Cabrera, scored the first union endorsement of the race today.

The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1500 backed Mr. Rivera, signaling that the liberal Democrat may win the lion’s share of labor endorsements in a primary that could help decide who governs the State Senate next year.

“Throughout his years as a state senator, Gustavo Rivera has been a model legislator that has tirelessly fought side by side with our members,” said Bruce Both, president of UFCW 1500, in a statement to the Observer.

“From holding Walmart accountable for it’s irresponsible business practices, to defending the Wage Theft Prevention Act, to passionately defending the need for food stamps in New York State, Senator Rivera has not only been on the right side of the issues, but has lead the fight,” he added.

Mr. Cabrera, a socially conservative pastor, is actively courting labor as he tries to oust Mr. Rivera. The Bronx pastor also did not rule out joining the Independent Democratic Conference–a coalition of Democrats governing the State Senate with the Republican Party–if he knocks off Mr. Rivera, a vocal critic of the power-sharing agreement.

Sources say Mr. Cabrera is running at the behest of State Senator Jeff Klein, a fellow Bronx lawmaker who leads the IDC. Senate Democrats are spearheading a challenge against Mr. Klein and some observers see Mr. Cabera’s bid against Mr. Rivera as retribution for that challenge.

Mr. Rivera said he was glad to have the grocery workers union on his side.

“On everything from a living wage to better healthcare access and safer streets, my values are their values — and I’m proud to kick off this campaign with their support,” he said.