32BJ endorses Senator Klein
5:18 pm
Thu July 3, 2014

Union "certain" Democrats will control Albany

Senate co-leader Jeff Klein, D-Bronx (right) beside Majority Leader Dean Skelos, R-Rockville Centre
Senate co-leader Jeff Klein, D-Bronx (right) beside Majority Leader Dean Skelos, R-Rockville Centre
Credit AP/Mike Groll

The influential labor union 32BJ SEIU endorsed State Senator Jeff Klein Thursday. The endorsement is the latest in a series of moves that stands to put Democrats back in charge of Albany.

After Democrats appeared to win control of the State Senate in 2010 Klein stopped caucusing with them and started the breakaway Independent Democratic Conference which aligns itself with Republicans.

At the root of this unique arrangement is significant differences between suburban Democrats and New York City Democrats. With Republicans in charge of Albany things like the MTA payroll tax were kept at bay and resources like state school aide disproportionately stayed in wealthy districts, including many on Long Island.

But this arrangement looks to be at an end.

In May New York Governor Andrew Cuomo vowed to help Democrats win the election in November. Then Klein said he would end IDC's alliance with Republicans.

Now 32BJ, one of the largest unions in the state, is essentially authenticating Klein's shift away from Republicans.

"We are very glad the IDC has promised to caucus with the rest of the Democratic conference," said Hector Figueroa, President of 32BJ, the 145,000-member union representing service workers.

“Democrats in the past may have benefited from working with Republicans, just as the unions have. But we have come to realize the well is now dry and there is no water that can be gotten from it.”

When Klein announced he would rejoin Democrats he left a small opening to reconsider after the election. But that opening now appears closed.

Figueroa says he is "certain" Klein and Cuomo will keep their word and not go back to working with Republicans.

"Everyone in this coalition intends to follow their word," he said.

He said if either official did not keep their word he and his members will begin looking at the next election.