11/8/07

Unions were pumped-up on Election Day

Michael K. Maloney, president of the Mercer County (NJ) Labor Union council, gave the troops their marching orders in the Colonial Firehouse in Hamilton on Election Day. "Do not come back till after six o'clock," he told the 300 union workers representing 22 locals who packed the tables in the hall and prepared to hit the streets to canvass for labor candidates here.

A few minutes later Maloney introduced Charlie Wowkanech, president of the state AFL-CIO, who jumped up onto the makeshift stage next to Maloney and stood above the workers. "I've just come back from Atlantic County," said the labor leader, who represents one million workers in New Jersey. "Our operations look good down there too. Statewide, we are running 51 union brothers and sisters in legislative races - that's the most we've run at any time."

Wowkanech says the AFL-CIO engaged its candidates' recruitment program mostly as part of an effort to protect the state protects workers' healthcare and pension benefits. The candidates come from both parties.

Republican John Amodeo is running for the Assembly in district 2. He's a crane operator who helped set the steel precast for the Borgata Casino. In district 14, Democrat Wayne DeAngelo is an electrical worker and business representative of his local.

In addition to other Democratic Party senate candidates, the AFL-CIO is backing three Republican candidates in key senate races: Senator Nick Asselta in the 1st, Assemblyman Bill Baroni in the 14th, Assemblyman Sean Kean in the 11th, and Burlington County Clerk Phil Haines in the 8th.

"People get nervous about our split endorsements," Wowkanech told PoliticsNJ.com. "But the fact is when someone has a record that supports our interests, we're going to be loyal to that person. What you see among the people we endorse is the diversity and quality of our union leadership, regardless of party."

Wowkanech said the AFL-CIO will have 10,000 workers statewide on the streets today.

As Maloney gave the final word and the workers headed for the tables to receive their canvassing information, the Mercer County AFL-CIO president said he'll have another 100 people pouring through the doors of the firehouse at around 4 p.m.

"That's when the buildings and trades get done with work," said Maloney.

(politickernj.com)

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