SEIU endorses L.A. sales-tax hike but stays out of mayor's race
The influential Service Employees International Union announced Tuesday it is backing Proposition A, the sales-tax hike ballot measure that would generate more than $200 million for the L.A. city budget after years of financial crisis.
The group opted, however, to stay out of the mayor's race, at least until after the March 5 primary, labor leaders said Tuesday.
SEIU reversed course on the sales tax, which would add a half cent to every dollar of taxable sales. In November, still stinging from the council's vote to roll back pension benefits for new employees, the union's political education committee had recommended the group oppose the new levy, which would erase next year's budget shortfall.
When that announcement was made, union leaders warned that the tax would disproportionately hit working-class and middle-class consumers. Two weeks ago, Council President Herb Wesson spoke to a union meeting to seek support for the tax.
On Tuesday, the union issued statements from its members saying the measure would keep middle-class workers from losing their jobs.
SEIU represents 620,000 workers in California, including 10,000 who work for the city. Although the union stayed out of the mayor's race, it did back former Assemblyman Mike Feuer in the contest for city attorney and businessman Ron Galperin in the race for controller.
In addition, the union backed seven council candidates: Assemblyman Gil Cedillo (D-Los Angeles) in the race to replace Councilman Ed Reyes; Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield (D-Woodland Hills) to replace Councilman Dennis Zine; Councilman Paul Koretz for reelection; Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes (D-Sylmar) to replace Councilman Richard Alarcon; Sen. Curren Price (D-Los Angeles) to replace Councilwoman Jan Perry; council staffer Mike Bonin to replace Councilman Bill Rosendahl; and former Board of Public Works member John Choi to replace Councilman Eric Garcetti.
-- David Zahniser at Los Angeles City Hall