Resort unions are ratcheting up their effort to elect their political allies to the Anaheim City Council, pouring at least $125,000 into independent expenditure committees.
On September 22, the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 324 contributed $125,000 to an IE committee called “Helping Working Families Get Ahead in Support of Aitken for Mayor and Leon for Council 2022, Sponsored by Labor Organizations Grocery, Hotel and Retail Workers.”
So far, this IE committee has spent $27,192.32 in support of Democrats Ashleigh Aitken for mayor and $14,700 on behalf of Carlos Leon for city council from District 2. The money is funding paid precinct walkers for the two candidates.
The IE committee has hired Pasadena-based The Strategy Group to produce campaign literature and is funneling money through a superPAC, the Worker Power PAC, to run the precinct walkers.
Resort unions have also formed an IE committee to support Bernie Sanders supporter Al Jabbar for city council in District 3, although that committee has not yet reported any expenditures.
The Resort unions do not appear to be mustering any effort to support Hari Lal in District 6, who has been endorsed by the Democratic Party of Orange County.
The treasurer of both committees is Derek Smith, the political director of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 324. Legalizing cannabis and then seeking to unionize cannabis businesses is a majorly priority for UFCW Local 324.
The principal sponsor of both committees is UNITE-HERE Local 11, the militant hotel workers union that is working to qualify an initiative to dramatically increase the minimum wage at Anaheim hotels and event venues from the current $15 an hour to $25 an hour. The measure would also impose burdensome workplace rules that significantly increase labor costs.
UNITE-HERE Local 11, UFCW Local 324, Workers United Local 50 and other Resort unions have a lot at stake in the city council election outcomes. Both UNITE-HERE and Workers United are circulating ballot measures that would impose enormous labor costs on Anaheim Resort businesses.
In December of this year, the District 2 council seat will become vacant when incumbent Avelino Valencia, as expected, is sworn as the new Assemblyman from Assembly District 69.
Victories by Aitken, Leon, Jabbar and Lal would put a liberal Democrat majority in charge of the city council, and in the driver’s seat when it comes to filling the District 4 with a like-minded colleague. Winning three of the four races would result in an evenly split council that might deadlock on filling the vacancy by appointment, prompting a special election instead.
Electing a council majority friendly to Resort union interests would directly benefit their growth strategies. In Los Angeles, for example, Local 11 was circulating a similar ballot measure that was ultimately directly adopted by the LA City Council following a vigorous union lobbying effort.