Thursday, September 5, 2013

UFT spends $2 Million on Thompson While 1199 Spends $6,590 for de Blasio

The city's biggest unions are spending millions of dollars on independent efforts to elect their chosen mayoral candidates. Two of the three Democratic frontrunners, Council Speaker Christine Quinn and former Comptroller Bill Thompson, have both benefited from independent spending by their respective unions.
But not Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. At least not on the surface.
Some political and labor insiders have expressed surprise that Mr. de Blasio's biggest union supporter, 1199 SEIU—one of the largest unions in the city with an estimated 200,000 members—has so far declined to fund an independent expenditure in his support.
The union has only spent $6,590 on two ads for Mr. de Blasio, according to campaign finance filings. In comparison, the United Federation of Teachers has spent almost $2 million on mailings and advertisements for Mr. Thompson, while the Hotel Trades Council has spent a combined $616,000 to support Ms. Quinn... Crain's NY
Crain's New York has a fascinating article comparing the UFT's support for Thompson with 1199's support for de Blasio. We've often said that the UFT political machine which the leadership tries to present as formidable is often a Potemkin Village. The conclusion of the article is telling:
Labor insiders said that while UFT has huge sums of money is can spend on its candidates, and the Hotel Trades Council has a highly mobilized cadre of volunteers, the healthcare union's main strength is its reputation.
"The brand itself is so powerful, even among non-union members in some of these areas," one labor operative said. "The de Blasio people can slap 1199 on a piece of mail to African-Americans: that sends a message that's as important a validation as any in the black community."
Yes, what exactly is the UFT brand?

Actually, the numbers are somewhat misleading at the article goes on to point out.

1199's hidden operation for de Blasio

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio with 1199 President George Gresham (right) at an event earlier this summer. Photo:

"That IS surprising!" one union source said in an email to The Insider. "I didn't know that...particularly in light of the fact that [Mr. de Blasio] is now up there with Quinn" in the polls. In fact, he is well ahead in the polls, and even when he was mired in fourth place, 1199 leaders had pledged a huge effort on his behalf.
Some labor insiders predicted that with several large hospital contracts up for renegotiation in 2014, 1199 was being more frugal with its money than the other unions. And traditionally 1199 does not have the reputation for making large expenditures on its chosen candidates, preferring to focus on driving turnout among its membership. (Although the union did contribute $200,000 as of early August to a political action committee devoted to defeating former Gov. Eliot Spitzer in the comptroller's race.)
So on the surface, 1199 seems to be spending far less on Mr. de Blasio than other unions have been spending for his rivals. But behind the scenes, the union's leadership insists its political operation is in full gear for the public advocate.
"We've been working very hard all along since we endorsed," said Kevin Finnegan, 1199's political director.
The union's work for Mr. de Blasio falls into two categories: volunteer organizing, coordinated with and paid for by the candidate's own campaign; and member-to-member advertising and communication that is separate from the campaign.
Most of the union's spending in favor of Mr. de Blasio is on these member-to-member communications, which does not have to be disclosed to the city's Campaign Finance Board after the City Council voted in January to shield such communication from public view.
(Predictably, the CFB is not a fan of this type of spending. "New Yorkers want and deserve access to complete information about the interests supporting candidates for City office, including mass-mailings that unions, corporations and other membership organizations use to promote candidates to their members," a CFB spokesman said.)
Mr. Finnegan said 1199 had spent around $600,000 on organizing and $1 million on mailings to its members—but acknowledged that those numbers had likely since increased since he last estimated them.
Meanwhile, the de Blasio campaign paid 1199 organizers hourly for help raising an army of volunteers. More than 200 union organizers were identified for this program, Mr. Finnegan said, although it is unclear how many were actually paid by the campaign for their volunteer-organizing services.
"They had to pay for…organizers that worked on getting them volunteers," he said. "So they're getting billed for that." That ended Sept. 1, and simultaneously the union began its member-to-member mail and phone program.
Now the union is focusing on placing around 30 MPOs—or highly trained member political organizers—in a dozen council districts, mostly in minority-heavy central Brooklyn, northern Manhattan, Queens and the Bronx, to focus on getting out the vote for Mr. de Blasio.
"Beginning last night, the whole union was turned over to that effort," Mr. Finnegan said. "So we had about 250 people out knocking on doors—member doors—and talking to them about Bill de Blasio and Tish James and Scott Stringer," the union's other endorsed citywide candidates.
Mr. Finnegan attributed Mr. de Blasio's recent surge—he is now polling with more than 40% of the vote—to 1199's behind-the-scenes efforts in his support.
"There's no question in my mind the two are linked," he said. "His numbers began to rise as our first pieces of mail started going to our members. And I don't want to take too much credit, he's an excellent candidate, probably could have done it without us. But I'm certain we've had an impact."
Labor insiders said that while UFT has huge sums of money is can spend on its candidates, and the Hotel Trades Council has a highly mobilized cadre of volunteers, the healthcare union's main strength is its reputation.
"The brand itself is so powerful, even among non-union members in some of these areas," one labor operative said. "The de Blasio people can slap 1199 on a piece of mail to African-Americans: that sends a message that's as important a validation as any in the black community."

1 comment:

  1. Don't forget the NYC City Is Not For Sale group that went up with anti-Quinn ads back in April. That was a big ad buy and it was VERY damaging to Quinn. She started her slide in earnest in April. While that ad wasn't spent for de Blasio, many in that group were pro-de Blasio (there were also some Liu supporters) and the effect of the ads was to help de Blasio in the long run by driving down Quinn's support and driving up her negatives. It's true the UFT has spent a lot of money, but given the awfulness of the candidate, they have had to do that. Hasn't helped either.

    ReplyDelete

Comments are welcome. Irrelevant and abusive comments will be deleted, as will all commercial links. Comment moderation is on, so if your comment does not appear it is because I have not been at my computer (I do not do cell phone moderating).