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Greuel picks up another big union endorsement

Los Angeles City Controller Wendy Greuel addresses supporters on March 5. Credit: David McNew / Getty Images

The political committee of a powerful Los Angeles County labor organization has backed City Controller Wendy Greuel in the mayoral runoff election after declining to pick a candidate in the primary.

After both Greuel and City Councilman Eric Garcetti spoke Tuesday morning at the political committee of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, Greuel won 70% of the vote, a little more than the two-thirds necessary for endorsement. The vote must be ratified by the federation’s executive committees and delegates, votes that will take place over the next week. But those moves are largely considered procedural.

“Wendy Greuel was pleased to participate in the first step of a three-step process at the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor in asking for their support,” said Greuel spokesman Dave Jacobson. “She is proud of her broad base of support from working men and women ranging from 911 operators to nurses to firefighters to trash haulers as well as her far-reaching support from the business community, including the L.A. area Chamber of Commerce, VICA and Bizfed.”

FULL COVERAGE: L.A.'s race for mayor

The federation represents 600,000 workers, and part of its clout lies in its ability to spend big while communicating with its members. In 2005, the year the group backed then-Mayor James Hahn, the federation spent nearly $373,000 on mailers and expenses designed to turn out its union members on election day. That money was not governed by campaign spending limits. Hahn lost to then-Councilman Antonio Villaraigosa.

While the federation did not endorse in the primary, many believe that a key SEIU chapter’s decision to back Greuel last week signaled what it was likely to do.

The vote could also be payback for a vote Garcetti made that hiked the retirement age and scaled back pension benefits for newly hired civilian city workers, which goes into effect in July and is designed to save $4 billion over 30 years.

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Maria Elena Durazo, the top official at the federation, has been an outspoken opponent of the decision by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the City Council. Durazo was one of 24 union leaders who loudly denounced the pension proposal last fall, telling council members that they were “potentially pushing city workers into poverty.” She also warned the lawmaking body that their vote would “come back and haunt” them.

Greuel did not have to vote on the matter because she is city controller.

Last week, four council candidates backed by the federation won their seats outright in the city’s primary election. The federation is now looking to send three more to the council in the May 21 runoff.

In Garcetti’s Echo Park-to-Hollywood district, the federation has spent more than $200,000 to elect former city commissioner John Choi. On the Eastside, the federation has put more than $197,000 behind the council bid of former Assemblyman Gil Cedillo, who is seeking to replace Councilman Ed Reyes on the Eastside. Those expenditures were not restricted by donation limits because they were provided independently of each campaign.

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-- Seema Mehta and David Zahniser

Twitter.com/LATSeema

Twitter.com/DavidZahniser

Photo: Los Angeles City Controller Wendy Greuel addresses supporters on March 5. Credit: David McNew / Getty Images

 
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