ITHACA, N.Y. — Anna Kelles and Nate Shinagawa, two candidates for Tompkins County Legislature’s second district seat (which includes Fall Creek), both announced recent endorsements from various labor unions on Friday.
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The three unions that came out in support of Kelles are: United Auto Workers Local 2300; United Association of Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 267; and Bricklayers and Allied Trades Local 3.
Kelles’ opponent, former Legislator Nate Shinagawa, also announced that he has received endorsements from the Tompkins-Cortland Building and Construction Trades Council on Friday.
The Council is a collection of 14 labor unions which include Operating Engineers Local 158, Carpenters Local 277 and Iron Workers Local 60. Total membership of the Council represents over 3,000 workers and their families in the Finger Lakes and Southern Tier regions of the state.
United Auto Workers Local 2300, which has a membership of about 1,300 workers, said it chose to endorse Kelles because she is working to achieve living wages for workers and various community projects.
Marcus Williamee, business representative for Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 267, also noted Kelles’ efforts toward working class.
“Anna understands we have a job and income crisis harming workers and their families, and county policy affects that,” Williamee said. “She’s a committed advocate for a better quality of life here in Tompkins County.”
In response to her endorsements, Kelles said: “[E]nsuring that everyone has a voice, a fair living wage, and a safe working environment should be basic rights and these unions understand this. I am proud to stand with them and I am honored to have their support. I encourage everyone to meet them and see for themselves the quality of people that represent these three groups.”
“In a time when working people are taking a pounding, I’m proud to be standing with Tompkins County workers as we fight back,” she added.
The Tompkins-Cortland Building and Construction Trades Council addressed its endorsement for Shinagawa.
“After hearing from both candidates, the Council is happy to endorse Nate Shinagawa,” Council president Dave Marsh said.
“For over ten years, Nate has stood with our members on the fights that matter. We need a local labor provision for all Industrial Development Agency projects and we believe Nate is the candidate who will best work with us in making sure this becomes a reality for the thousands of workers who need it.”
In a press release, Shinagawa cited his position that all development projects receiving a tax abatement from the Industrial Development Agency hire local labor. He said this position was crucial to the trades council’s endorsement.
“I’m honored to have the endorsement. I think one of the biggest fights we have coming up is making sure we have a local labor provision for all [Industrial Development Agency] projects. And if the Building Trade Council has spoken and said that I’m the best candidate to help the thousands of workers who need jobs,” Shinagawa said.
Shinagawa added that if he were to be re-elected, then he would regain membership into the Tompkins County IDA, which grants tax abatements and projects in the county, and will work to empower the local labor force.
“Anna Kelles is not on the IDA. I was a member of it until recently so if I get reelected then I’ll be back on the IDA and I will be one of the seven people who will be on the board to decide whether or not there is a local labor policy,” he said.
In response to losing the Building Council’s endorsement, Kelles said that she was disappointed but will continue to support the Council and carry on her campaign.
“First of all, I think they’re wonderful people. I’m certainly disappointed but they’ll continue to have my support and my attention, and I’ll be equally committed to them as with all the other groups,” she said.
“I am going door to door and meeting with people in my community. I’ve been getting a very open response. I think people are ready to bring in a new voice and that’s what I am. I’m not a career politician but an activist.”
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