‘An attack against workers’ — Group fighting Sawant recall blasts Seattle Building and Construction Trades Council endorsement

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As the fight over District 3 representative Kshama Sawant becomes a $1 million battle, the group hoping to remove the most senior member of the Seattle City Council with a recall ballot vote is claiming a surprising comrade in the political tussle over the socialist firebrand: labor.

The Recall Sawant campaign announced Wednesday that Seattle Building and Construction Trades Council representing 19 affiliated local union locals is endorsing their effort.

“In 2014, the Ironworkers endorsed Kshama Sawant as a Labor friendly candidate because she had a strong message coming out of the dark days of the 2008 great recession. Unfortunately, since that time we have found that the actions of this elected official did not embody the message,” Chris McClain, Iron Workers Local #86 executive secretary, said in a statement from the campaign.

“We support District 3 working to find a strong Labor candidate that holds true in word and action for the benefit of Seattle, District 3 and the Labor Community in that district,” McClain said. “A candidate that supports unions, apprenticeship and prevailing wages through employment opportunities.”

The Kshama Solidarity group fighting the recall effort called the endorsement “an attack against workers and the labor movement as a whole.”

“McClain’s shameful words testify to the deep betrayal that this is of the tens of thousands of trades workers, both unionized and non-unionized,” the solidarity campaign said in a statement on the endorsement.

In its statement, the Kshama Solidarity campaign notes the recall endorsement comes from leadership of the union groups involved who participate in the labor council, not “rank and file” members and points out that “nearly 20 labor unions – representing university workers, nurses, educators, retail workers, many public-sector workers – have proudly stood with the Solidarity Campaign to fight the recall attack.”

The labor council endorsement comes as efforts continue to gather the more than 10,000 District 3 signatures required to get the recall question on the ballot. CHS reported here in May on the start of the signature gathering effort that has focused on a by-mail strategy while both campaigns have occasionally tangled in the streets. The campaigns have also argued over Sawant’s admission of guilt for improperly promoting the Tax Amazon ballot initiative, one of the issues behind the recall effort. Sawant was ordered to pay a penalty of $3,515.74 — double the amount of city funds her office spent promoting Tax Amazon.

The campaigns, meanwhile, are increasingly well supported. According to the most recent filings with the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission, the recall fight is now a $1 million batle.

Organizers need around 10,000 signatures from District 3 residents to put the recall on the ballot. Only D3 voters will participate in the yes/no recall vote. If the majority of D3 voters choose yes on the recall, the council would select a temporary replacement until the next general election in the city. The winner in that vote would finish Sawant’s current term through the end of 2023.

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