Tenant organizer Michael Hollingsworth has been endorsed by a notable construction and building union in his run for a Fort Greene City Council seat.
LiUNA-NY, a PAC connected to the New York branch of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA), which represents construction and property service workers, announced today that it would back Hollingsworth in his bid to replace term-limited Council Member Laurie Cumbo in the District 35 seat, which includes Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Crown Heights, Prospect Heights and parts of Bed-Stuy.
LiUNA-NY represents about 25,000 people in New York City working in the construction industry.
“Michael’s dedication to fighting for hard-working New Yorkers aligns with the values and actions of our union,” said John Hutchings, executive director of the New York State Laborers’ PAC that manages the LiUNA-NY, “and his presence on the Council is necessary to ensure the men and women who build our city are heard, respected and prioritized.”
In his own statement, Hollingsworth cited his work with LiUNA-NY member Laborers Local 79; both opposed a controversial redevelopment proposal for the Bedford Union Armory in Crown Heights. Council Member Cumbo supported the project, which will host a fitness center and nonprofit space along with 415 rental apartments, 250 of them below-market rate. Opponents have said the housing is insufficiently affordable and the project will spur gentrification.
But despite a reworking of the deal that removed planned condos and lowered the income thresholds for tenants, Hutchings’ group and others remained opposed, and in 2017 LiUNA-NY supported a primary challenge against Cumbo.
“I was proud to stand alongside LiUNA-NY when we fought the sale of the Bedford Union Armory by our City Councilmember Laurie Cumbo,” Hollingsworth said. “I’m happy to stand with them once again as we fight to win the District 35 City Council seat for the people, and ensure politicians can’t decide the future of our communities in backroom deals.”
Hollingsworth’s closest challenger, Crystal Hudson, was a staffer for Cumbo from January 2018 to June 2019, after the Armory deal was negotiated, and others in the race have sought to tie Hudson to the project. But Hudson insists she was against the redevelopment from the start, and in November, she wrote an op-ed for Bklyner in which she called the project a “disgrace.”
Both Hollingsworth and Hudson have published detailed labor policy platforms that include strengthening protections for gig workers, expanding paid sick leave and pushing the state to further raise the minimum wage.
Hollingsworth’s proposals to “keep New York a union town” include requiring businesses that work with the city to acquire a “Certificate of No Intimidation” to verify they do not intimidate workers—roughly akin to the city’s Certificate of No Harassment for landlords—and rejecting rezoning proposals that lack union neutrality agreements.
Hollingsworth also wants the city to require employers to provide a “just cause” when firing any worker, a right recently extended to fast food employees.
Financial disclosure filings show Hollingsworth and Hudson closely matched in the money race; Hollingsworth has about $183,000 on hand, while Hudson has $179,420, and both candidates have maxed out on public matching funds. Hudson has collected significantly more in private donations ($102,000 to Hollingsworth’s $68,000), but from fewer donors (1,024 to Hollingsworth’s 1,306).
Within the district, Hudson has collected 347 private contributions totaling about $27,500, while Hollingsworth has gathered 441 contributions amounting to just over $22,000.
Hollingsworth has the backing of the increasingly influential NYC Democratic Socialists of America and most of their slate of state legislators, including State Senators Julia Salazar and Jabari Brisport. Hudson, meanwhile, has picked up support from many of the city’s largest unions, like DC37, the UFT and 32BJ SEIU, along with Council Members like Adrienne Adams and Brad Lander.
Other candidates in the race include Green Earth Poets Cafe founder Curtis Harris, who’s pulled in just under $16,500 in private donations, and former District Leader Renee Collymore, who’s raised about $22,000 in private donations. Of the two, only Harris has received matching funds, so while he’s sitting on about $52,000 in cash, Collymore has only $2,362 in the bank.
[4/1/21 – This story has been updated to correct the dates during which Crystal Hudson worked for Council Member Laurie Cumbo.]