The Public Employees Federation has endorsed Scott Murphy for Congress, pledging members to work in phone banks and canvass door-to-door for the Democratic candidate.
P.E.F. has consistently supported Assembly Minority Leader Jim Tedisco in his Assembly races, but decided to back Murphy in part because he took a strong and clear stance in favor of the Employee Free Choice Act. The decision to endorse Tedisco was not unanimous, according to Tom Comanzo, a regional coordinator for P.E.F.
But it is certainly significant. The Capitol suburbs that comprise the population bulk of the district are heavily combed with state workers, and P.E.F.'s volunteer base is strong. The union endorsed Republican incumbent John Sweeney for the seat in 2004, but flipped to back Kirsten Gillibrand in 2006, helping put her over the top. The choice between Gillibrand and Sandy Treadwell, a blue-blooded Republican, was clear in the last election cycle.
"He didn't completely rule it out," Comanzo said of Tedisco's position on EFCA, noting that the assemblyman has taken pro-labor stances in the past, and adding that an Assembly minority leader who supports labor actually weighed against Tedisco.
When I asked each candidate about EFCA, Murphy answered in four words ("Yes, I support EFCA.") while Tedisco took a more nuanced position. Here's what he said last week on the subject:
"As you've seen in New York State, we've kind of had a diminishment of democracy, a lack of elections for important positions. The hallmark of our democracy is public elections, for public officials, voted on by the public. Organizing and unions, I'm very support of those. We need those. My father worked in a foundry for forty years as part of a union. I marched in picket lines. But so is the hallmark of our democracy. I think something as serious as men and women deciding whether they want to organize and unionize should follow a democratic process. I wouldn't want to see any coercion from labor or any coercion, much diminished as it could possibly be can, from the employer. If we get to a process where we're suggesting that the way we do these elections is go out and go up to people and say, if you check off this card, if you get enough check offs it takes place. It's a slippery slope. Because eventually you might see Jim Tedisco and Scott Murphy out in the street trying to get as many check offs as we possibly can, and that would decide who the next elected official in congress is. I don't want to see our democracy go in that direction. I think the privacy of our voting both is extremely important in any vote that they're going to make, in unions or elected officials as a part of our democracy. So I can look at the bill to see if it could be changed and maybe open it up more and get privacy of the voting booth, but I would be concerned about that."
Tedisco campaign spokesman Josh Fitzpatrick, one of several Assembly minority staffers who have migrated to the campaign, said that his candidate was endorsed by the National Federation of Independent Businesses.
"Jim Tedisco is proud to have the endorsement of a group of people representing small businesses who are creating jobs," he said.