An influential labor group with ties to the Chicago Teachers Union announced Brandon Johnson’s support for mayor on Wednesday, listing labor organizations supporting the Cook County commissioner on progressives, including U.S. Representative Jess “Chuy” Garcia .
Service Employees International Union Local 73 revealed its choice outside county government offices in the 2023 election, officially joining the CTU in the February election to Mayor Lori Lightfoot with someone aligned with her interests. was replaced.
Johnson, a longtime organizer with CTU, accepted teachers’ union support and a political contribution of $59,900 in September, shortly before joining the race.
The backing of two veterans in the Chicago labor space gives union-friendly Johnson a significant boost in his bid to stand out among a crowded field of progressives jockeying for Lightfoot’s removal. The political power of both unions has grown over the past decade, especially in the case of the CTU, although the most recent mayoral candidates they trail behind – Cook County Board Chairman Tony Prekwinkle in 2019 and Garcia in 2015 – failed to win.
[ Who’s in, who’s out and who’s thinking about running for Chicago mayor ]
The SEIU announcement also complicates how Garcia – a darling of the political left who is expected to announce a run for mayor – will maneuver the field if he enters the race. To be sure, he has a wider name recognition among Chicagoans than Johnson and forced then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel into a runoff election during his final campaign. But this time with the CTU behind Johnson and a major SEIU local rally, Garcia’s path ahead remains unclear.
Earlier last month, Johnson told the Tribune he was in talks with SEIU Local 73, which represents nonteacher workers in Chicago public schools, regarding an endorsement.
The union has more than 31,000 service workers in schools, government, social services and more throughout Illinois and Indiana. SEIU, based in Chicago, has two other chapters: Local 1, which represents maintenance and janitor workers, and Healthcare, both of which have previously matched the support of Local 73, but have yet to announce their choice.
In recent years, Lightfoot has attempted to work with SEIU leaders and has even appointed Beniamino Capelupo, executive director of the SEIU Illinois State Council, as a senior advisor working with labor unions. But despite quietly building a productive relationship with some SEIU leaders, it is unclear whether she will be able to turn this into formal support.
In the meantime, Johnson is working to raise money and garner support from labor groups, including his teachers’ union base. Since its initial donation to Johnson, the CTU contributed an additional $11,250 to its political committee last month. Johnson has collected $150,000 in contributions from the Illinois Federation of Teachers, and the American Federation of Teachers has pledged $1 million towards his race. Unions representing local carpenters and electricians also donated to Johnson’s political fund.
Lightfoot has long fought with the CTU and other progressive organizations during his first term. He led the city’s response to an 11-day strike teachers’ strike in 2019 and personally led a series of standoffs with the union during the COVID-19 pandemic over his plan to return to schooling. Although CTU was at the fore in these labor disputes, SEIU Local 73 joined CTU in its 2019 walkout and aligned with most of the teachers union in their demands.
For his part, Lightfoot has argued that he is a progressive mayor, and that he has constructive relationships with some labor leaders who appreciate his record on activist issues.
In his first few months as mayor in 2019, Lightfoot pushed through the Fair Workweek Ordinance, which requires Chicago’s large employers to give workers at least two weeks’ notice of their schedules and allow them to make last-minute changes. is required to be compensated for. Later that year, Lightfoot passed its first budget, which set the stage for the $15 minimum wage demanded by local unions.
When Lightfoot garnered support within the City Council to lay the foundation for Chicago’s first casino, she stood alongside Bob Reiter, president of the Chicago Federation of Labor and members of UNITE HERE Local 1, hospitality at a festive news conference. Represents workers.
In addition to Johnson, State Representative Cambium “Kaam” Buckner, eld. Sophia King, eld. Roderick Sawyer and activist Jamel Green are mayoral candidates who describe themselves as progressives. Also in the running is businessman Willie Wilson, eld. Raymond Lopez and Paul Wallace, former CEO of CPS.
Johnson first won public office in 2018, when he defeated Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin in the Democratic primary for his West Side district after earning organized labor earnings by voting against the county’s soda tax. Prior to this, Johnson was a CPS teacher.
In Johnson’s time on the county board, he has pushed for a measure to make it illegal to refuse to show or rent property to people with certain criminal records. He also drafted a symbolic resolution supporting withdrawal of money from policing in the wake of nationwide protests demanding a refund of the police budget.
He recently repeated his criticism of the political establishment on the stage of mayoral candidates, vowing not to increase the Chicago police budget, “Can we be honest? They don’t want black people here,” demolishing public housing. About policies like Lightfoot’s recent move to close schools, or to raise bridges during the 2020 civil unrest.