Newark mayor's race: council-at-large candidate Osborne says labor still a player in Newark elections, including in the critical Central Ward

By Mark Bonamo | April 30th, 2014


NEWARK - The May 13 Newark municipal election is not the first time that Eddie Osborne, a council-at-large candidate on Newark mayoral candidate Ras Baraka's slate, has taken a stab at running for office. 

Osborne ran for the then-vacant Central Ward council seat in 2008 against Charles Bell. At the time, Osborne served as the business manager of Laborers Local 1153, an affiliate of the Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA), and worked for Ray Pocino, LIUNA’s vice president and Eastern Regional manager. Despite the Osborne campaign's massive get-out-the-vote operation, he lost a bitter battle with Bell. 

In 2014, LIUNA is endorsing Ras Baraka for mayor. In addition to LIUNA, the Communications Workers of America (CWA), New Jersey's largest public workers union and others are also endorsing Baraka. And Osborne, now LIUNA's director of government affairs, believes that not only will he finally win a city council spot. He believes that both he and Baraka, locked in political combat with rival Newark mayoral candidate Shavar Jeffries, will surf a tidal wave of labor union support into power. 

"Here is Newark, unions have been coming together for years. We're always out on the streets on Election Day to make sure that Newarkers come out and vote. The community recognizes our union members," said Osborne, whose Central Ward home base could prove to be the most critical front line in the battle to control Newark. "I've had six years to extend my contacts, learn about the issues and widen my base throughout the city. I'm ready." 

Osborne, 51, added that while he's been a labor union member for 27 years, he believes that unions also mean something to the community at large.

"I knew what labor meant to me and my community personally the first time I ran, but I didn't know what it meant throughout the whole city," Osborne said, who has been endorsed by numerous labor unions. "Labor unions play a key role in creating jobs for Newarkers. The private sector does it, too. But with project labor agreements and work like prisoner re-entry programs, I believe that they help create a lot of opportunities for people in this city." 

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