The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 825 has endorsed four of the five candidates running on Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla’s council slate, along with incumbents Mike Russo and Ruben Ramos.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“We’re excited to support candidates who back organized labor and recognize the importance of infrastructure investment in a challenging and all-or-nothing political environment,” IUOE 825 Business Manager Greg Lalevee said in a statement.
“We took a hard look at the records, public statements and candidates positions on the issues critical to operating engineers: infrastructure investment and support for the Transportation Trust Fund re-authorization, expansion of clean natural gas infrastructure and the role it plays as we diversify our energy mix, and protecting our ability to organize and put members to work.”
The influential labor union is supporting dozens of candidates across nearly every district in the state, including Hoboken.
In the Mile Square City, they are backing Migdalia Pagan-Milano in the 1st Ward, Nora Martinez-Debenedetto in the 2nd Ward, Russo in the 3rd Ward, Ramos in the 4th Ward, Phil Cohen in the 5th Ward, and Cristin Cricco-Powell in the 6th Ward.
The union also endorsed Hoboken Assemblywoman Annette Chaparro (D-33), though not her running mate Raj Mukherji.
Team Bhalla spokesman Rob Horowitz said that his team is committed to maintaining and upgrading infrastructure.
“All the candidates on the Team Bhalla slate are committed to continuing to upgrade and maintain Hoboken’s infrastructure,” he said.
“We are pleased that the Operating Engineers recognized this fact and endorsed four out of our five candidates. It is not surprising to see that in a couple of the races they went with long-time incumbents.”
The Russo and Ramos campaigns could not immediately be reached for comment on Monday afternoon.
While they were not heavily publicized, the Local 825 endorsements went up on their website on September 24th, eight days before the Hoboken council was slated to vote on the Hoboken Rail Yards Redevelopment project.
That matter ended up being tabled at their October 2nd meeting, with the majority of the governing body opting to hold a public meeting before voting on final approval for the large-scale endeavor.
The developer for the project, LCOR, has said previously that they would utilize union labor to build the multi-faceted development, which would potentially bring major changes to Downtown Hoboken.
The project currently boasts an 18-story office building on the southeast corner of Hudson Place and Hudson Street, a 28-story residential building on the southern side of Observer Highway between Washington and Bloomfield Streets and another office building at the southeast corner of Henderson Street and Observer Highway.
This is not the first time Local 825 has gotten involved in Hoboken elections: they endorsed Bhalla and his council-at-large slate in 2017 and their political action committee, Stronger Foundations, spent $70,520 on media and polling for Bhalla’s campaign.
Local 825 has largely stayed out of the Mile Square City since then, though raised some eyebrows after producing an attack ad on Councilman-at-Large Jim Doyle (who they endorsed in 2017) for voting against a Hoboken hotel plan.
Council members Tiffanie Fisher, Peter Cunningham and Jen Giattino came out in support of Doyle shortly after the ad hit the airwaves.