Tags: | Chicago | mayor | unions | Rahm Emanuel | Chuy Garcia

Chicago's Powerful Unions Divided Over Rahm Emanuel

Image: Chicago's Powerful Unions Divided Over Rahm Emanuel
(Kevin Dietsch/UPI/Landov)

By    |   Monday, 06 Apr 2015 11:26 AM

On Tuesday, Chicago will host its runoff election between Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Cook County Commissioner Jesús "Chuy" Garcia. While Emanuel is showing double digit leads going into polling day, unions are divided in their support, with some powerful groups throwing their weight behind his opponent.

According to The New York Times, the amalgamated Transit Union locals, the Service Employees International Union's Illinois State Council, and the Chicago Teachers Union are backing Garcia with door-to-door operations, phone banks, and a strong Get-Out-The-Vote effort.

Emanuel, too, is running a sophisticated campaign operation, dominating the airwaves and running a strong field operation supported by $18 million of funds. He enjoys the backing of more than 15 unions including firefighters, hospitality workers, carpenters, painters, laborers, pipe fitters and plumbers.

"In a post-machine world, they matter a lot," an Emanuel campaign strategist told the Times. "They're a huge piece of our campaign strategy."

Unions used to be the backbone of political support for candidates, but that has changed in recent years. Without their unification, labor's role may have a limited impact on the outcome of the race, the Times said.

"Labor is never stronger than when it's unified," Anders Lindall, a spokesman for Afscme Council 31, told the Times.

Garcia's support from teachers unions was born out of a backlash to Emanuel's first term agenda. He was criticized for shutting down 49 elementary schools to deal with a budget shortfall.

"This has got to be the start of a movement," said Karen Lewis, a teachers union leader, according to The Washington Post. "This can't be about one election, one election cycle."

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While Rahm Emanuel is showing double digit leads going into polling day, unions are divided in their support, with some powerful groups throwing their weight behind his opponent.
Chicago, mayor, unions, Rahm Emanuel, Chuy Garcia
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2015-26-06
Monday, 06 Apr 2015 11:26 AM
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