AFL-CIO endorses Schmoke, Clarke in city's elections


Although Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke withheld negotiated pay raises from city employees this year, AFL-CIO leaders yesterday "voted with their minds and not their hearts" to endorse him over Clarence H. "Du" Burns in this year's race for mayor.

"No labor person could stand up and say they don't have admiration for Clarence 'Du' Burns," said Cheryl Boykins Glenn, president of the 5,300-member City Union of Baltimore. "But we voted with our minds, not our hearts."

Union leaders said that they were displeased by the loss of their members' pay raises, but agreed that the city's anticipated $54.1 million deficit left Mayor Schmoke few options. The mayor said that to keep the pay raises, he would have had to lay off more than 2,000 city workers.

"We shouldn't look at the [withheld raises] as a separate issue," Ms. Glenn said. "On the whole, [Mr. Schmoke] is responsive to labor. He has an open-door policy and we can talk to him. That is crucial.

"And, we believe he is going to keep his word and give back to the city employees when the city is in better shape."

At a meeting in South Baltimore, the AFL-CIO -- which represents some 200 unions in the Baltimore metropolitan area -- issued its endorsements for candidates in this year's city elections without much discussion.

Union leaders said that despite the AFL-CIO endorsements, their individual unions can opt to support different candidates. However, the AFL-CIO expects to enlist as many as 500 volunteers to help the campaign efforts of its endorsed candidates.

Jeff Deslisle, president of the city firefighters union, which is the only municipal union to have consistently refused to accept the mayor's demands for cutbacks, would not say whether his group will support the AFL-CIO ticket. Other union leaders were unavailable last night.

City Council President Mary Pat Clarke won the AFL-CIO's endorsement in her campaign for re-election.

"There is no one that would get an endorsement over Mary Pat," Ms. Glenn said. "She is probably the most supportive person of labor issues."

In the comptroller's race, Mary Conaway received the union endorsement over City Council members Jacqueline F. McLean and Joseph T. "Jody" Landers III. Union officials said they had been put off by Ms. McLean's vote against subsidizing the pay of city employees who were called to duty in the Persian Gulf. They also said that in response to interview questions about binding arbitration, tuition tax credits and mandatory drug-testing, Ms. Conaway, the city's register of wills, had the most convincing, pro-labor responses.

In the 1st District council race, endorsements were given to incumbents John A. Schaefer and Dominic "Mimi" DiPietro, and to Joseph R. Ratajczak, an aide to Councilman Schaefer.

In the 2nd District race, the unions endorsed incumbents Anthony J. Ambridge and Carl Stokes. Their third choice was Paula Johnson Branch, who is an ally of Mr. Burns.

In the 3rd District, incumbents Martin E. "Mike" Curran and Wilbur E. "Bill" Cunningham won endorsements, along with Maegertha "Mary" Whitaker, a member of the Democratic State Central Committee.

All incumbents in the 4th, 5th and 6th districts won endorsements.

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