Union leaders from across the state met with Democratic Party leaders in Kingston this afternoon for more than two hours to lay out issues that they say the party needs to address to ensure their support.
Several county chairs in attendance said there was no ultimatum put to them by labor, and the unions didn’t indicate that they are ready to abandon Gov. David Paterson’s election bid next year.
“There was a very frank, good discussion around the table and I came away feeling that we have a great opportunity to do work on a couple of problems the folks at the table brought up,” said Nassau County Democratic chairman Jay Jacobs, the incoming state party chairman.
“I felt that there was a general sense that they’d like the governor to succeed, but work needs to be done.”
Labor leaders urged Democrats to not abandon legislative issues that are still outstanding, such as reforming the state’s industrial development agencies — which have not allowed non-profits to get help for construction projects. They also talked about getting approval of a farmworkers’ bill of rights, which has yet to pass in the Senate, passing a same-sex marriage bill and retaining funding for education and health care.
Labor leaders in recent weeks have grumbled that they may not support Paterson in his election bid in 2010 as Attorney General Andrew Cuomo contemplates whether to jump into the gubernatorial race.
County party leaders said the 2010 elections were hardly discussed and there was no discussion of which candidates might get labor’s backing. The chairs of Monroe, Onondaga, Ulster, Bronx, Brooklyn and Nassau counties attended.
“I didn’t see it as an effort by them to intimidate, threaten or give us an ultimatum,” said Monroe County Democratic Committee Chairman Joseph Morelle, who is also a state assemblyman. “I felt it was like a real opportunity for them to express their dissatisfaction and work on the relationship to a much larger degree than we have.”
The sides agreed to meet again later this year.