2 unions back Clarke, another wants Schmoke


Three more unions have made endorsements in Baltimore's mayoral election. The city firefighters and fire officers are backing City Council President Mary Pat Clarke, and private health care workers are supporting Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke.

The endorsement of Mrs. Clarke by Baltimore Fire Fighters Local 734 and Fire Officers Local 964 gives the two-term council president a sweep of the city's public safety unions. Last week, the police union announced its support of Mrs. Clarke, who is challenging Mr. Schmoke's bid for a third term in the Sept. 12 Democratic primary.

In jointly endorsing Mrs. Clarke, the firefighters and officers criticized the mayor for hiring an out-of-state labor consultant to aid the city in its contract negotiations, and for closing or consolidating several units and stations as part of cost-cutting and efficiency moves.

"Mayor Schmoke fails to recognize fire protection as a crucial element of public safety," the fire unions said in a written statement. A formal announcement of their endorsement is scheduled for today.

William V. Taylor, president of the firefighters' local, said yesterday that when the mayor closed three fire houses this year, Mrs. Clarke "led the fight to keep them open."

Mrs. Clarke also was the lone member of the Board of Estimates to vote this year against a $100,000 contract with New Jersey-based Hay Management Consultants to help the city negotiate contracts with its unions. The police and fire unions opposed the contract.

Together, the firefighters and fire officers have about 1,700 members, about half of whom live in the city, Mr. Taylor said.

Previously, the Service Employees International Union District 1199E, which represents health care workers at hospitals and nursing homes throughout the Baltimore area, voted to back Mr. Schmoke's re-election.

"It appears to us that the mayor has done a good job running the city, especially given all the problems of urban areas today," said Robert B. Moore, that union's president. "We think he is worthy of our support."

Mr. Moore said the union represents about 6,000 workers, more than half of whom live in the city.

The endorsements of Mrs. Clarke by the fire unions and Mr. Schmoke by the health workers are another indication of labor's divided loyalties in the mayoral contest.

This month, the Metropolitan Baltimore Council AFL-CIO, an umbrella group of 160,000 union members, made "no recommendation" in the mayor's race. The group also failed to endorse a candidate for city comptroller, but backed 4th District Councilman Lawrence A. Bell III to succeed Mrs. Clarke as council president and made recommendations in all six councilmanic races.

The endorsements also may reflect the racial makeup of the individual unions. The health care workers' union is about 70 percent black. The firefighters unions are about 60 percent white.

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