Leaders of building trades unions are roiling at the potential Congressional candidacy of lobbyist Brad Gerstman, claiming he works against the interest of working families in Long Island’s third district, where Democratic Rep. Steve Israel announced plans to step down.

In a joint statement Gary LaBarbera, president of the Greater New York Building Trades Council, and Richard O’Kane, president of the Building & Construction Trades Council of Nassau & Suffolk, called Gerstman’s candidacy “particularly offensive” because he “duplicitously champions the non-union construction sector that exploits unions, while attacking unions that have fought ... for better wages.” They maintain they are “committed to ensuring that his long-shot candidacy for Congress remains a fantasy.”

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Gerstman said he’s not surprised by the union leaders’ opposition but maintains they mischaracterize his position.

He said he is not opposed to unions but in favor of increasing diversity in the numbers of blacks, Hispanics and other minorities in the work force.

”It’s a free country. Anyone can run and I would not take any money from or endorsements from any special interest group,” Gertman said.