JOE BEL BRUNO Staff Reporter
Just one month after endorsing Mayor Richard Riordan for reelection, Los Angeles labor leaders voided that endorsement last week.
In closed door meetings that lasted nearly three hours, officials with the Los Angeles Federation of Labor on Thursday decided to take a “neutral stance” in the April 8 mayoral election. Meanwhile, labor leaders directed the federation’s 320 individual unions to make their decision on whether to endorse Riordan or his challenger, state Sen. Tom Hayden.
“There was not a universal consensus within us to support Mayor Riordan for another term,” said Miguel Contreras, the federation’s executive secretary-treasurer. “Local unions backing the mayor have decided that, in the spirit of solidarity, L.A. labor should take a unified position.”
The endorsement marks the latest twist in the mayoral candidates’ courting of L.A. labor unions. The unions’ initial backing of Riordan caught many political observers by surprise they felt Hayden would get the endorsement because of his long-time support for workers.
In addition, Hayden a liberal Democrat supports the proposed living wage ordinance. Riordan only supports a watered-down version of the bill that’s now before the City Council.
Riordan’s primary labor support is among construction trade unions, due primarily to the mayor’s support of a sports arena project proposed for downtown and the Playa Vista project near Marina del Rey, both of which would create lots of local construction jobs.
Hayden’s primary labor support, on the other hand, is from the Service Employees International Union, which represents various public- and private-sector workers.
Both Riordan and Hayden are expected to aggressively court the support of individual unions this week.
“This will hurt Dick and help Tom, but whether it will be sufficient enough to sway the race is another matter,” said Xandra Kayden, a political scientist at UCLA. “Riordan is a good dealmaker, so Tom Hayden has a tough job ahead to get more votes from these individual unions.”