County Council at-large member Marc Elrich is racking up union endorsements this week in his bid for county executive.
On Wednesday, the Metropolitan Washington Council AFL-CIO announced it had unanimously voted to endorse Elrich. The council is comprised of 180 area unions that represent an estimated 25,000 workers in the county.
The endorsement represents the backing of the council, but not of the individual unions that are members of the council. Each union can choose to endorse candidates on their own and are not obligated to endorse the same candidate as the council.
For example, UFCW Local 1994 MCGEO, which represents about 7,000 workers in Montgomery County and is a council member, has not yet endorsed Elrich.
“Once the council makes an endorsement, it’s not a mandate that everyone else follows suit,” MCGEO President Geno Renne said in an interview with Bethesda Beat Wednesday. “What it does however is strongly suggest that an affiliated local [union] not endorse somebody else.”
Renne, an officer on the council’s executive board, issued a statement in support of the AFL-CIO council’s endorsement Wednesday.
“Marc is a strong, smart and independent voice for safety and justice, and we believe he will represent the interests of all people who call Montgomery County home with integrity and compassion,” Renne said in the statement.
Renne said Local 1994 MCGEO plans to begin interviewing county executive candidates later this month, then possibly endorse a candidate sometime by the end of February or early March. He added that the union may choose not to make an endorsement.
Elrich is running against five other Democrats for the party’s nomination in the June 26 primary.
“Our early endorsement makes clear that on the question of vision and direction for Montgomery County, not only does the labor movement agree with Marc and his vision, but we will mobilize our members and make the case to voters that he is the best candidate to move Montgomery County forward,” Jackie Jeter, president of the Metropolitan Washington Council AFL-CIO and president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689, which represents Metro workers, said in a statement.
On Monday, Elrich also received the endorsement of 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). The union represents about 18,000 workers in the Washington, D.C., metro area including office cleaners in Montgomery County. The union said in a press release it was endorsing Elrich for his work on the county’s paid sick leave law as well as for leading the push to pass the $15 minimum wage law.
“Montgomery County sorely needs an executive like Marc Elrich, who has a long track-record for helping low wage workers and immigrants who contribute greatly to our communities and economy,” Jaime Contreras, the vice president of 32BJ SEIU, said in a statement.