Senior Correspondent Desirée Taylor
The state AFL-CIO endorsement doesn’t come as a surprise, given the fact Barbara Buono fought against the governor’s push for pension and benefits reforms and attempts to modify collective bargaining rights.
“When I was the first woman majority leader in the state senate and I was confronted with a public employee pension and benefit ‘reform’ bill, and unions were willing to come and negotiate and were turned away, I fought against and stood out on the steps of the State House and I voted against this attack on your collective bargaining rights,” Buono said to the audience, “and I’d do it again today.”
Buono painted Christie as anti-union and anti-middle class, and she vowed to continue to support issues that matter to working class families.
As your governor, I will make sure we have a living wage. A living wage — that’s what we need in New Jersey, not just a minimum wage! And I will sign earned sick days. I will sign that legislation as well. They will be the hallmarks of a Buono administration.
All that helped convince union officials to give Buono their blessing, but their endorsement was also payback for Christie’s targeting the teacher’s union when he first took office.
“When he says I don’t like the unions, he’s talking about our family, and I’ve had enough of this!” exclaimed Union President Charles Wowkanech.
But Buono faces continued revolt within party ranks, as Christie collects endorsements from a growing list of Democratic leaders, including Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo.
“I guess he supports the governor’s veto of minimum wage tied to a cost of living, I guess he supports the governor’s cutting women’s health care, I guess he supports the governor’s veto of marriage of quality,” Buono said of DiVincenzo. “You have to ask him but it doesn’t sound like a Democrat to me.”
Among the union’s other endorsements are Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver who asked members to support all Democratic candidates.
“It is Democrats in the New Jersey legislature that are stepping up and fighting and articulating what is right,” said Oliver.
Supporters say this kind of endorsement is just what Buono needs to kick her campaign into high gear, and with union support comes both money and boots on the ground.