At a ceremony held right outside the door where Michael Nutter enters and exits City Hall, three AFSCME district councils formally announced their endorsement of Jim Kenney’s campaign to succeed Philadelphia’s current mayor.
The Tuesday morning event marked the latest labor endorsement for the former city councilman who is one of six candidates seeking the Democratic nod in the mayoral race. Kenney has already gotten similar support from unions representing teachers, police officers and firefighters.
AFSCME spokesman Bob Wolper estimated that the labor trio represents up to 35,000 active and retired white-collar, blue-collar and hospital workers.
“He’s been an ‘A student’ in this government for the past 23 years, getting straight As every single day by voting for us on every one of our issues,” said Henry Nicholas, president of National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees 1199c which had previously endorsed the candidate publicly. “We need a leader who can get this city out of the condition it now finds itself in.”
Nicholas was one of nine people who offered introductory words before a crowd up an estimated 100 supporters outside City Hall’s northeast entrance.
The last of those pre-Kenney speakers was District Council 33 President Pete Matthews who treated the podium like a pulpit, noting that it’s rare for the three unions to rally behind the same candidate.
He said the collective group, which also includes DC47, could become a race-deciding bloc should they rally their friends and families behind the candidate.
Moments after Councilmen Curtis Jones Jr. and Bill Greenlee walked by and waved, Kenney said the support left him “really feeling good” about his chances in May.
“I get really angry when people say city workers are bums and don’t work hard,” he said. “The one thing I can guarantee you is dignity, conversation, face-to-face negotiation and a fair approach to what your wages, healthcare and benefits should be.”
In related labor-endorsement news, Tony Williams’ campaign announced Tuesday afternoon that he’ll be endorsed by the Laborers’ District Council on Thursday morning.
Audio story from WHYY’s Tom MacDonald.