By Daniel Larios
September 10, 2014 – The City of Santa Monica Teamsters union is backing three City Council candidates who have been stalwarts on the dais during the past two decades, union officials announced Tuesday.
The Trades & Maintenance Teamsters Union 911 – which represents 400 employees in the Big Blue Bus and Public Works departments – endorsed Mayor Pam O’Connor, who has served on the council since 1994; Councilmember Kevin McKeown, who has served since 1998, and former mayor Mike Feinstein, who was on the council from 1996 to 2004.
“We elected to endorse Kevin, Michael, and Pam due to their experience, commitment, and dedication to the issues that are important for Santa Monica as well as an apt alignment and understanding of the issues that impact Trades & Maintenance Teamsters,” said Carlos Rubio, Spokesperson for Teamsters Local 911.
The union’s endorsement comes with campaign volunteers who can staff phone banks and knock on doors, Rubio said. Candidates also benefit by touting the endorsement on their campaign literature.
This is the second union endorsement for Feinstein and O’Connor, who won the backing of the Coalition of Santa Monica City Employees (CSMCE) last week.
“The Teamsters are a forward looking union with a rich tradition,” O’Connor told the Lookout. “Our Teamster City workers carry on that tradition working hard every day in public service to the community of Santa Monica. I am proud to have their endorsement.”
In addition to the Teamsters, O’Connor has the support from County Supervisor candidate Sheila Kuehl, Assemblymember Richard Bloom and County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, among others.
Feinstein has received endorsements from the LA County Green Party, Los Angeles City Councilmember Mike Bonin and former LA Councilmember Bill Rosendahl.
“Santa Monica provides more services and functions than most municipalities,” Feinstein said in a statement.. “Who helps make that happen? Our City employees… from those who maintain our beaches, parks, Pier and Promenade; to resource recovery and recycling; to our award-winning Big Blue Bus and more.
“It’s also important to recognize that in an age of austerity, outsourcing and union-busting, Santa Monica can retain a AAA bond rating while providing good wages and benefits to its workers,” he added. “In other words, an economy that respects our humanity is also one that leads us to prosperity.”
This is also McKeown’s fourth union endorsement, which includes the hospitality union UNITE HERE local 11, CSMCE and the California Nurses Association.
“Earning the Teamsters’ endorsement is a special treat that takes me back to my blue collar roots, because one of my first jobs straight out of high school was unloading trucks -- as a Teamster,” McKeown told the Lookout Tuesday.
McKeown also is backed by Kuehl, Santa Monicans for Renters Rights, the Santa Monica Democratic Club and the Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City.
UNITE HERE local 11 also endorsed former Lookout Columnist Frank Gruber. (“Hotel Workers Union Backs McKeown, Gruber for Santa Monica Council,” September 8, 2014)
All 14 qualified candidates were invited to seek the endorsement; only ten responded, Rubio told the Lookout Tuesday.
In addition to McKeown, O’Connor and Feinstein, they are Gruber; Planning Commissioners Sue Himmelrich, Jennifer Kennedy and Richard McKinnon; Parks and Recreation Commissioner Phil Brock, non-profit consultant Nick Boles, and Whitney Scott Bain.
The union’s endorsement process consisted of a written statement from the candidate as well as a questionnaire, according to Rubio. The statement/questionnaire was then submitted to an endorsement committee composed of Teamster members who work in Santa Monica, who then made the endorsement.
The hotly contested council race is the only election the Teamsters Local 911 will weigh in on this year.
“We will not be making endorsements for other races,” Rubio told the Lookout. “We’re just focusing on the City Council race.”
Although Teamsters local 911 has been around since 1975, it wasn’t until September of last year that Santa Monica Trade and Maintenance employees voted to join the union by an overwhelming margin, 237 to 17.
With more than 8,000 members, Teamsters Local 911 is the largest public sector Teamsters’ Local in Southern California.