Metropolitan Washington Council head Joslyn Williams (center) with Tommy Wells last year
Metropolitan Washington Council head Joslyn Williams (center) with Tommy Wells last year

With Vince Gray‘s veto of the Large Retailer Accountability Act/Walmart bill just a week old last September, local Metropolitan Washington Labor Council AFL-CIO boss Joslyn Williams predicted that Gray would have a tough time winning the union coalition’s endorsement. The nearly 200 unions affiliated with Williams’ group proved him right last night, with Gray and all of his mayoral rivals each failing to win the two-thirds vote required to win the group’s endorsement.

In a statement, Williams insisted that the lack of an endorsement wasn’t “for nor against any particular candidate.” Still, the nonendorsement a mark of how divided labor support is this year compared to 2010, when Gray received the Labor Council’s endorsement in a unanimous vote.

Gray campaign manager Chuck Thies attributed the dashed endorsement to the competing interests of affiliate unions, including grocery workers—-who endorsed Vincent Orange over his living wage bill support—-and a firefighters’ union that’s critical of Gray. Still, Gray has received several big union endorsements in the race, including the SEIU and the hotel workers’ union.

“The unions who put a lot of effort into winning campaigns support Vince,” Thies says.

The Labor Council endorsed incumbents Jim Graham in Ward 1, Kenyan McDuffie in Ward 5, and newcomer Darrel Thompson in Ward 6. The unions backed Phil Mendelson, but didn’t make an endorsement for Mary Cheh in her uncontested bid to win another term representing Ward 3. The group also didn’t make an endorsement in the contested at-large race in which Councilmember Anita Bonds is attempting to hold on to her seat.

Photo by Will Sommer