ALBANY — Two influential labor unions are threatening to yank their long-time support of Senate co-Leader Jeffrey Klein if he and his group of breakaway Democrats don’t begin conversations to realign themselves with the chamber’s mainline Dems.
The unions representing the city’s teachers and the hotel and motel workers threw down that gauntlet late last week to Klein, who heads the five-member Independent Democratic Conference that jointly runs the Senate with the Republicans, sources said.
“We value the work the Independent Democratic Conference has been able to accomplish for our members with the coalition, but, as working families continue to struggle, it’s frankly past time the Democrats figure out a way to unite,” said Josh Gold, political director for the hotel and motel workers.
The Hotel and Motel Trades Council has already endorsed Klein’s reelection. The United Federation of Teachers, which did not return calls for comment, has yet to formally back Klein but recently voted against endorsing Klein’s primary opponent, Oliver Koppell.
But now both unions have told Klein that he and his members “must make a good faith effort to re-align themselves with the mainline Democrats,” or face losing their backing, said one labor source familiar with the situation.
“They basically told him, ‘We’re ... important supporters and we expect you to sit down and have these conversations. If you don’t, then we don’t know how we can continue supporting you,’” the source said.
The unions aren’t necessarily asking that the independent conference rejoin the Democratic mainstream, but rather break their agreement with the Senate Republicans and form a new coalition to run the chamber with the traditional Dems.
The demand came a week after the announcement of a new coalition involving Gov. Cuomo, Mayor de Blasio and key labor unions designed to take back the Senate for the Democrats.
The question I have is, given the anti-teacher and anti-traditional public education initiatives Jeff Klein has pushed as head of the IDC, why is the UFT backing him in the first place?
That they don't even care if he rejoins the Democratic Caucus, just that he pledges to stop governing with Republicans, shows you how rotten to the core the UFT political strategy is.