Nine labor groups representing more than 90,000 Long Island workers endorsed Democratic Rep. Kathleen Rice for re-election in the 4th Congressional District last week.
Officials from the public- and private-sector unions cited Rice’s efforts to protect workers and support the middle class in her first congressional term and as Nassau County district attorney.
“As DA she [Rice] steadfastly enforced worker protections and prevailing wage laws. And in Congress, she’s been a tireless advocate for investing in our crumbling infrastructure here on Long Island and across the country,” Pete Zarcone, political coordinator for the Laborers International Union Local 66, said in a statement. “We’re proud to endorse her and we’re excited to join her on the campaign trail.”
Other union officials pointed to Rice’s support for affordable healthcare and railroad security and safety regulations.
Joining Zarcone’s union in backing Rice are Laborers International Local 1298; health care workers union 1199SEIU; International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 282; International Union of Operating Engineers Local 15; Sheet Metal/Air/Rail/Transportation’s Transportation Division of the Long Island Rail Road; National Association of Letter Carriers Long Island Merged Branch 6000; the New York State Public Employees Federation; and the Building and Construction Trades Council of Nassau and Suffolk Counties.
Rice, of Garden City, was also endorsed by four local Republican officials in August and has the backing of the national Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
She faces Republican David Gurfein of Manhasset, a retired U.S. Marine and former congressional military liaison.
In an interview, Gurfein said he found Rice’s labor endorsements “shocking and surprising” given her support last year for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free-trade deal with 12 Pacific Rim nations that Rice once said she opposed.
Gurfein said two local law-enforcement unions, the Nassau County Detectives Association and the Nassau County Police Benevolent Association, have endorsed him.
A Rice spokesman, Coleman Lamb, said Rice only supported a bill that set standards for trade deals and gave President Barack Obama “fast-track” authority to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership. She has not taken a stance on the pact itself, Lamb said.
The Building and Construction Trades Council of Nassau and Suffolk Counties also endorsed Republican state Sen. Jack Martins of Old Westbury in the 3rd Congressional District last Thursday, calling Martins a “very good friend to labor and our movement.”
“Working alongside my dad during the summers growing up, I saw the emphasis they put on doing the job thoroughly, professionally and safely,” Martins, a partner in his family concrete company and chairman of the state Senate’s Labor Committee, said in a statement. “Earning their endorsement is something of which I am very proud.”
In addition to backing Rice’s Democratic candidacy, the union rallied for the Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, before last week’s presidential debate at Hofstra University.
Martins was endorsed last month by the Civil Service Employees Association, which also endorses Clinton and supported Rice’s first congressional campaign in 2014.
Martins faces Democrat Tom Suozzi, a former Nassau County executive, in the race to replace Democratic Rep. Steve Israel.
Suozzi has been endorsed by several labor unions, including the New York State Union of Teachers and Westbury-based United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1500.
“Tom Suozzi has a long history of taking on powerful interests, and putting people before politics, to solve serious problems for working men and women,” a Suozzi strategist, Kim Devlin, said.