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“Chewy” Garcia gets a lot of work support

During his campaign for mayor of Chicago, U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chewy” Garcia received the endorsement of IUOE Local 150, one of the state’s most influential unions.

With the business community largely absent from the mayoral race, union support will be especially important in determining who sits on the fifth floor of City Hall. Mayor Lori Lightfoot tried to ally with the unions, while Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson received support from progressive labor groups, including the Chicago Teachers Union, SEIU 73 and SEIU Healthcare.

Garcia, who was endorsed by SEIU and CTU affiliates in his 2015 mayoral bid, now has significant support of his own from the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150. In a statement, the union praised Garcia’s “40 years as a public servant” and said , that “brought people together to find solutions.”

“The upcoming election will be a pivotal moment for the city of Chicago. Chicago is a world-class city with the potential for tremendous success and prosperity, but getting there will require a leader with a track record of bringing people together, facing tough challenges and getting results,” said Local 150 President James Sweeney. “(Garcia) is the right leader to move Chicago forward, and on behalf of the 23,000 members of Local 150, I’m proud to support him.”

The union has not said how much money it will give to Garcia’s campaign, but they have historically spent big to support candidates they are throwing their weight behind.

While Lightfoot’s time as mayor has been marked in part by constant battles with the police and teachers unions, she has also quietly built strong relationships with some labor leaders who value her record on labor issues.

As mayor, Lightfoot pushed through a $15 minimum wage increase and a long-held union-backed workplace ordinance, two points she often points to as she touts her record. Unions also supported her plans for a Chicago casino in River West and the union jobs it would bring.

But the mayor’s support from the trade unions is also accompanied by public tension. The Plumbers’ Union, for example, supported Lightfoot. But friendship booed her twice during big meetings with the rank and file, including one in mid-November.

In all, Lightfoot and eight challengers filed nominations for the Feb. 28 election. If no one gets at least 50% of the votes, the second round will take place on April 4.


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