The Laborers Union will back South Ward Councilman Ras Baraka in the Newark Mayor's race

By Mark Bonamo | February 20th, 2014

 

NEWARK - Newark mayoral candidate Ras Baraka was endorsed by the New Jersey Laborers Union, the 20,000-member affiliate of the Laborers' International Union of North America (LIUNA), on Thursday, increasing his level of labor support in the race to run New Jersey's largest city.

"Ras Baraka has the right skills to move Newark forward and the right principles to leave no one behind in the process," said Raymond M. Pocino, LIUNA Vice President and Eastern Regional Manager. "We feel confident that Ras Baraka is right for Newark and right for our membership.

"We are honored to have the endorsement of the New Jersey Laborers Union and I look forward to their continued support and growing relationship," said Baraka, Newark's South Ward councilman.

The Laborers Union includes construction workers, public sector workers and service workers among its members. The union's membership includes 1,355 Newark residents, according to union officials.

The union made significant waves when LIUNA endorsed Republican Gov. Chris Christie in the 2013 gubernatorial contest, going against labor's normally Democratic tendencies and contributing to Christie's drubbing of Democratic candidate Barbara Buono.

The endorsement of Baraka by one of the state's most power labor unions could begin to answer where organized labor, a powerful political force in New Jersey politics, stands regarding the Newark mayoral race.

Garden State political observers have wondered where the considerable labor union support garnered by North Ward Councilman and former Newark mayoral candidate Anibal Ramos, Jr. will go now that Ramos dropped out the mayoral race last week to focus on keeping his council seat. Ramos was endorsed by a total of nine labor union groups, the
most of any of the major candidates in the race.

Baraka was endorsed by the Communications Workers of America (CWA), New Jersey's largest public workers union, in December. Baraka, a Newark
public high school principal currently on leave, is a member of the City Association of Administrators and Supervisors (CASA).

Baraka's main rival in the Newark mayoral race, former state Assistant Attorney General Shavar Jeffries, has yet to receive any major labor union endorsements.

The Jeffries campaign declined comment about the Laborers' endorsement of Baraka.

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