By C.N. Staff Writer
DC Democratic mayoral candidate and Ward 4 Councilmember Muriel Bowser continues to heat up the mayoral race as she maintains her favorability while racking up yet more prime labor union endorsements. On August 12, 2014, District 20 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) announced its endorsement of Democratic Nominee for Mayor, Muriel Bowser in the upcoming District general election on November 4, 2014. The announcement comes just one day consecutive to the endorsement of Councilmember Bowser by the Metro Washington Labor Council, AFL-CIO. Both endorsements sustain and advance Bowser’s propulsion of support from working families in the district.
AFSCME has over 75 years of history and became historically linked to the civil rights movement in the 1960’s when they joined students and activist in protest of economic and racial oppression. AFSCME’s affiliation to the movement culminated in Memphis, Tennessee in 1968 when sanitation workers went on strike to demand union access after two African American workers were crushed to death in a garbage truck. As a result AFSCME local union 1733 was established. AFSCME currently boasts of a membership of over 1.6 million (nationally/internationally). District Council 20 specifically has over 6,000 members and is the largest union representing District government employees, including social workers, library aides, school bus drivers, attendants, crossing guards, sanitation workers and others.
Council 20’s Executive Director, Andrew D. Washington, stated Bowser was “the best choice to create a city that truly works for all, not just the top 20 percent.” He further stated, “In Muriel Bowser we believe unions will have a seat at the table when important issues are discussed. Will we see eye-to-eye all of the time? No. But we do believe her administration will be inclusive and she will respect the right of district workers to organize and bargain collectively.” Council 20’s executive board voted for Mayoral candidate Bowser over her challengers post a meeting the prior week where Bowser took questions for approximately an hour and pledged to return to the table for follow-up talks with attendants, bus drivers and crossing guards.
Fourth ward Councilmember Bowser accepted the AFSCME endorsement by releasing a statement responding, “I’m honored to be endorsed by the hardworking men and women of District Council 20, a group that helps represent the backbone of our economy. Together, we will build an even stronger and more vibrant city, one that supports working families, grows middle-class jobs, and brings trusted leadership to the District of Columbia.”
Meanwhile, Bowser’s AFL-CIO endorsement came as a bit of a shock considering the union struggled and could not agree on a candidate in the primary. However, President of the AFL-CIO Metropolitan Washington Labor Council, Joslyn Williams indicated in a statement that the union decided to back Bowser due to her “support for labor issues, including wage-theft enforcement and government workers’ right to unionize.” The AFL-CIO has endorsed Muriel Bowser twice before in previous elections. The Democratic Nominee for DC mayor accepted the endorsement in a press conference with Metro Council President, Williams and other area labor leaders held August 11, 2014. Bowser stated, “When working families ask me to stand with them, I don’t say no.” The endorsement process included all three candidates completing questionnaires, followed by interviews with each candidate. The union plans to provide volunteers in the general election to operate labor phone banks, conduct labor to labor canvassing in the neighborhoods, and get out the vote for Muriel Bowser.