The Pioneer Valley Central Labor Council released over the weekend its endorsements for Springfield’s upcoming preliminary elections. Those elections, on Sept. 15, will winnow down the field of candidates for five of the eight newly created ward seats on the City Council, and for two of the four newly created district seats on the School Committee. The winners will go on to the Nov. 3 general election, when city voters will select eight ward and five at-large city councilors, two at-large and four district School Committee members and also vote for mayor.
The Labor Council, made up of 58 local unions and other labor groups, has endorsed candidates in four of the five ward races that will see preliminaries:
• Ward 4: E. Henry Twiggs
• Ward 5: Clodo Concepcion
• Ward 7: Mike Rodgers
• Ward 8: Orlando Ramos
The unions also endorsed one School Committee member: incumbent Chris Collins, who’s running for the District Three seat.
The Labor Council did not weigh in on two other preliminary contests: the race for the District Two seat on the School Committee and the race for the Ward 6 seat on the City Council.
While the announcement did not include the reasons behind the Labor Council’s endorsements, the selected candidates generally have union backgrounds, or a record of being sympathetic to labor causes. Concepcion, for instance, was a union organizer during his days working in a machine shop, while Ramos is a member of Carpenter’s Local 108. Collins began working in the Springfield school system as a custodian and went on to become a teacher and then a principal; his brother, Tim, is president of city’s teachers’ union.
The Labor Council will release its endorsements for the general election next month. The big question then, of course, will be who the unions back in the mayor’s race: Incumbent Domenic Sarno, or his challenger, City Councilor Bud Williams.
Two years ago, the council backed Sarno over Charlie Ryan. Many union members were furious at Ryan, and the Finance Control Board, for their tough approach in negotiating new employee contracts. Now, after almost two years in office, Sarno, too, has had his tussles with the unions—for instance, for his support for privatizing certain city jobs. Williams, no doubt, hopes to capitalize on those kinds of tensions.
By the way, the Labor Council also endorsed candidates in two other municipalities: incumbent Chicopee Mayor Michael Bissonnette, and Holyoke City Councilor Elaine Pluta, who hopes to fill the seat being vacated by outgoing Mayor Mike Sullivan.