Both Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel have been reliable friends of labor in their political careers, and both are counting on help from unions and their members. At Sunday's rally in the Valley, Garcetti's first thanks were to the union reps in the crowd, including the Engineers and Architects from City Hall. But Greuel's embrace of big-time spending on her behalf, especially by the DWP union, is proving more controversial, and the Los Angeles Business Journal cited that as the one "crucial" issue causing the weekly paper to break with tradition and endorse for the first time. The paper urges the business community to vote for Garcetti.
Greuel has such enormous financial support from unions that it is unsettling. For example, an insightful analysis in the Los Angeles Times a week ago showed that of all so-called super-PAC donations made to both candidates, close to 60 percent was from organized labor and was given to support Greuel.
The whopping mismatch does more than make a bad impression: It creates the expectation that Greuel would not – could not – act as an effective brake on the runaway power of unions in Los Angeles.
It’s a pity. Greuel is knowledgeable and articulate, and our sense is that she’d be a good and effective spokeswoman for the city. But by so openly seeking help and money from unions, she’s made it difficult for us to support her.
To be clear, the Business Journal is not anti-union. Labor unions serve an important and necessary role. In past decades, they got decent working conditions and wages for aggrieved workers, and today unions serve as an effective deterrent to any rapacious impulses of employers. At their best, unions act as a counterweight to maintain a wary balance between employers and employees. America needs sturdy unions.
Our concern is that the pendulum of power has swung alarmingly in labor’s favor in Los Angeles and throughout most of California.
[* Update: The editorial originally carried the byline of editor Charles Crumpley online, but that has been removed. The editorial came from Crumpley and publisher Matt Toledo, the LABJ says.] So Charles and Matt, anything to say about the candidate you are endorsing? Turns out, yes:
The important and troubling question is whether Garcetti is up to the task. He is from the same pro-union mold, after all. On the other hand, he has taken some steps to try to resolve the city’s pension problems. And since the unions have thrown their support to his opponent, he is in far better position to confront them.
What’s more, Garcetti is an intelligent and reasonable administrator who, by several accounts, grew into his job as council president.
We endorse Eric Garcetti, and we hope he would grow into the job as mayor and understand he needs to fairly represent everyone.
Also in Campaign 2013:
- Greuel has loaned her campaign $100,000, at a time when the inflow of donations is slowing and she's had to cut back on TV spending, according to the LA Times. Garcetti had previously put $50,000 into his campaign to help cover debts from the primary.
- Garcetti launched a new TV spot that hits Greuel for her backing by the DWP union. LA Weekly
- Garcetti calls Los Angeles not "a liberal town, but we’re a libertarian town." It's not clear to libertarians quite what he means though. Daily Caller
- Jobs — and the union thing — were the key topics at campaign stops on Monday, the LA Times says.
LA Observed photo of crowd at Garcetti rally in Encino on May 5, 2013.