As expected, Utah's AFL-CIO gave Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ted Wilson its endorsement for the November election, but it didn't come without some opposition.
The endorsement came near the conclusion of the organization's 32nd annual convention in the Tri-Arc Hotel Friday and after a debate among Wilson, Gov. Norm Bangerter and independent candidate Merrill Cook.Charlie Quick, president of Local 1645 (Salt Lake Fire Department) of the International Association of Firefighters, attempted to remove the Utah Labor Council's endorsement of Wilson and have his fellow delegates offer no recommendation on the three men.
But he was supported by only a few delegates who said Wilson, when he was Salt Lake mayor, tried to eliminate collective bargaining and arbitration for the firefighters. Quick said Wilson tried to fractionalize the union and met with the firefighter union representatives only after extensive media attention.
Quick, who later voted to endorse Wilson, was heavily outvoted by other delegates who said Wilson, despite some questionable moves as mayor, was still the best man to carry out organized labor's program.
Also as expected, Democrats for the other major races in Utah received the AFL-CIO nod. They include Brian H. Moss for the U.S. Senate, Gunn McKay in the 1st Congressional District and Rep. Wayne Owens in the 2nd District.
In the 3rd District, the group endorsed Robert V. Stringham in the primary and after that time the names of the winner and Rep. Howard C. Nielson, R-Utah, will be referred to the council for a recommendation.
Shortly after the debate and before the lengthy list of endorsements came to a vote, Ed Mayne, Utah AFL-CIO's president, made a blistering attack on the governor, saying that he has abandoned Utah working families.
Mayne noted that at last year's AFL-CIO convention, he called the governor's staff "incompetent idiots" and hoped that after 12 months he could report things have changed.
"I am sad to report to you that the opposite has been true. Gov. Bangerter and his political appointees have continued in a mode of leadership which has economically harmed Utah working families, and caused us to question our faith which we have in government," Mayne said.
"We have seen that Gov. Bangerter has bowed to the big money, big business special interests in an attempt to save a floundering campaign," Mayne said.
His seven-page speech outlined nine areas where he believes the governor has abandoned organized labor.
Mayne said that 12 months ago, state officials placed an advertisement in INC. Magazine which attempted to attract new business to the state. One of the points the advertisement noted was Utah's low wages, Mayne said.