It’s no secret that Jenny Durkan has outpaced Cary Moon in union endorsements this election.
Durkan has snagged the endorsements of, among many others, the M. L. King County Labor Council, SEIU 775 and 1199 NW, Teamsters Joint Council No. 28, and the Washington State Council of County and State Employees. Moon, meanwhile, has reaped a more modest haul of endorsements, the biggest being UFCW 21, which is the largest private-sector union in Washington and represents retail, grocery, and health care workers.
But where the gap really widens up between Durkan and Moon are in union contributions to the campaigns and independent expenditure committees. Durkan’s own campaign has received $500 donations (the max allowed to candidates) from the National Union of Operating Engineers, the Teamsters Legislative League, and three different SEIU locals, to name just a few. Moon has received only two such max-contributions, from SEIU Local 6 and Local 925. There are no records of any donations to Moon from UFCW, Seattle Education Association, or Unite Here Local 8, all of which endorsed Moon (After this story posted, a representative of UFCW 21 said that it has given $500 to the Moon campaign, which will be reflected soon on campaign reports; Abby Lawlor with Unite Here says that the union does plan to contribute to Moon soon).
And the gap becomes gaping when one factors in union spending to IEs. The pro-Durkan IE, People for Jenny Durkan, has become a financial juggernaut, and not without big help from organized labor. Since IEs don’t coordinate with campaigns, there is no limit to how much people, corporations, or unions can contribute to them. In just one filing period, SEIU 775, which represents health care workers, gave $60,000 to People for Jenny Durkan, and the Firefighter’s union contributed $50,000. The Teamsters have chipped in another $10,000. As has been noted widely, this union support of the Durkan PAC big labor in league with the Seattle Chamber of Commerce, whose PAC is the largest contributor to People for Jenny Durkan. People for Jenny Durkan’s swollen bank account is allowing it to flood TV with pro-Durkan ads.
Moon has criticized Durkan for her large donor list, saying that it will make her beholden to special interests as mayor (though she’s focused more on donations from corporations and developers than from unions). Durkan, meanwhile, has knocked Moon for spending her own money in the race, saying it’s a sign of privilege. On that note, paperwork filed late Monday by the Moon campaign shows she has put another $35,000 of her own money into the race, bringing her total to $174,169.
Unions aren’t only good for contributions. They bring votes via members and a bully pulpit for issues. On Tuesday, Unite Here 8 sent out a press release criticizing Durkan on her excuse for not signing a pledge of solidarity with hotel workers that called on hotel owners to drop a lawsuit challenging the recently passed I-124. Durkan says she wasn’t given a fair opportunity to sign the letter; Unite Here says she’s been given ample opportunity to sign, and suggests she is avoiding doing so on account of the hospitality industry’s large contributions to People for Jenny Durkan.
The big winner so far in the union contribution game is Teresa Mosqueda, who’s running for City Council Position 8. The Washington State Labor Council leader has snagged contributions from a wide range of local labor organizations, and an affiliated IE, Working Families for Teresa Mosqueda, has enjoyed large contributions from several unions: SEIU gave $65,000 to Working Families for Teresa Mosqueda, and the Teamsters $14,000. Mosqueda has also been supported by FUSE, which is funded by labor unions.
This post has been updated to reflect comment from a representative at UFCW 21.