Colby Hamilton, Writer, WNYC News
Colby Hamilton is a general assignment reporter. He originally joined WNYC as a political blogger. He's a proud graduate of the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.
Congressional candidate Assemblywoman Grace Meng has received the endorsement of the New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council. The union has a large immigrant presence among its enrollment, with 30,000 total members and 3,000 being counted in the new 6th Congressional district, according to the union. It is the largest union endorsement the Meng campaign has received so far, and breaks a string of labor announcements for Meng’s rivals in the Democratic Party primary in the 6th Congressional district in Queens.
"As a union that represents workers in an industry built on immigrant labor, we are excited to endorse Grace Meng for Congress,” said Peter Ward, the union’s president. “A daughter of immigrants, Grace will be a powerful voice for the close to 3,000 Hotel Trades Council members in her district, many of them New Americans,"
The announcement also comes on the same day Meng was criticized in the press for her initial vote for Governor Andrew Cuomo’s pension reform legislation on the floor of the Assembly last month.
“I’m disappointed to learn that Assemblywoman Meng changed her vote to facilitate the passage of Tier VI at a time when my members and other working New Yorkers were counting on her to stand up for their pensions,” said Arthur Cheliotes, the president of CWA Local 1180, in a statement first published by Politicker.” But I’m particularly disappointed to have been misled for these past few weeks into believing that she was a consistent, solid opponent of efforts to chip away at the retirement security of hardworking New Yorkers.”
Meng campaign spokesman Michael Tobman responded to the comments:
It’s offensive that any labor leader would stoop so low as to use such a dishonest attack to prop up his endorsed candidate. This is especially disturbing from a labor leader so clearly embarrassed by his actions to disenfranchise minority voters by opposing the minority candidate in a diverse district drawn for empowerment. I would say "it reminds me of the good old days" but there was nothing "good" about those days.
Everyone knows the truth here – in typical Albany fashion, Assembly Republicans were all going to vote in lockstep for Tier 6, but for political reasons were dragging the vote out as long as possible. Instead of playing along, Assemblywoman Meng allowed the Republicans to believe that she might vote for the proposal. After exposing the Republicans' cynical game, Assemblywoman Meng did what she always does – voted to protect the working people of New York.
These kinds of baseless attacks are expected from Republicans who have made their disdain for minorities and immigrant communities clear. This Labor leader, who represents significant numbers of minority workers and claims to be progressive, should know better.