Jenny Durkan on election night.
Jenny Durkan on election night. nate gowdy

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The M. L. King County Labor Council has endorsed Jenny Durkan for mayor.

An affiliate of the AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations), the MLKCLC represents various labor groups and a total of 100,000 workers across the county. It is one of the largest and most prominent labor groups in the region.

Last month, the group endorsed Jessyn Farrell and Bob Hasegawa, neither of whom made it through the primary. Hasegawa has a history as a union leader and Farrell sponsored pro-worker legislation in the state House, including protections for pregnant workers and an increase to the minimum wage.

At the time, MLKCLC Executive Secretary-Treasurer Nicole Grant said the group was looking for "a Seattle mayor who has experience holding public office—a leader with a proven track record taking votes on issues that affect our quality of life in one of the most dynamic, and expensive, economies in the world." Neither of the two candidates headed for the general election—Durkan, a former U.S. attorney and engineer Cary Moon—have elected experience. Durkan has won establishment and business support, but also backing from several unions in town including Service Employees International Union Local 775.

The labor council announced its pick in a Facebook post last night and wrote this on Twitter today:


(Those photos appear to be from the ongoing Teamsters 174 strike, which began six days ago.)

But the group has not yet offered more specifics about the choice. Why Durkan? Do labor council leaders have any concerns that she's the same candidate who's been endorsed by the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, the business group that has fought worker-friendly legislation like secure scheduling? I put in a request for comment and will update this post if I hear back.

UPDATE, 2:45 PM: In a statement from Durkan's campaign, Grant called Durkan "an unwavering advocate for working families" and Durkan promised to "relentlessly fight alongside [the labor council] for the living wages and the rights of teachers, electricians, city employees, and every other worker in our city."

"Jenny Durkan is a progressive force for justice and stands up time and again for working families," Grant said in the statement. "From her time as a dues paying Teamster to her experience as U.S. Attorney, she's been an unwavering advocate for working families. Jenny's executive experience and tireless commitment to addressing inequality, social and economic justice, workers rights, and fair wages make her the clear choice to lead Seattle."

UPDATE, 3:40 PM: In an interview, Grant said endorsing Durkan “just did not feel like a hard choice.”

Grant cited Durkan’s work as an attorney and her endorsements from other unions, including SEIU 775 and the union representing city firefighters. The firefighters, who would work for Durkan if she’s elected, “saw it as, here’s somebody we feel like we can trus. They have this professional track record and demeanor that gives us lot of confidence,” Grant said.

“I don’t know of any union that endorsed Cary Moon and there’s a lot of unions,” Grant added. “I think it’s because she wasn’t a part of our world.”

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The labor council is made up of 150 unions and focuses mostly on political campaigns and lobbying. To endorse candidates, the council’s executive board (made up of members of various unions) makes a recommendation on who to endorse. Then, delegates from each union vote on the endorsement. Unions are given a number of delegates based on their size. The voice vote to endorse Durkan was “overwhelming,” Grant said.

Asked about Durkan’s business support, Grant said that’s not a priority for the city’s labor movement.

"It’s a pretty scary time for lot of people, for the workers’ movement with a Trump presidency,” Grant said. “People want to feel like Seattle is unified and there’s a cohesion between the major factions in our city. They want a consensus candidate. They want business and labor to get along and move an agenda forward that is the antithesis of what Donald Trump is moving forward.”

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