City's largest union backs de Blasio for mayor

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New York City mayoral contender Bill de Blasio Monday accepted one of the race's most coveted labor endorsements, from Local 1199 SEIU, which at 200,000 members is the city's largest labor union.

"We have been known as a very powerful political union," said union president George Gresham. "It was a unanimous vote. It is the first time in over 20 years that we've had that kind of unanimity around a candidate for as high an office as the mayor of New York City."

Gresham and other members of the health care workers union, speaking at a news conference on the steps of City Hall, said they backed de Blasio for his support of affordable housing, increased prekindergarten opportunities and willingness to tax the wealthy at higher rates.

"Finally, we have someone that we can believe in," Gresham said. The union remained neutral in the 2009 mayoral race, but Gresham Monday said he regrets not endorsing the Democratic nominee at the time, Bill Thompson, and keeping Mayor Michael Bloomberg from a third term.

"Whenever New York City has needed social progress or economic fairness, 1199 has stood up," said de Blasio, the city's public advocate. "You have been the difference-maker."

Also Monday, mayoral candidate and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced she received the endorsement of the Queens County Democratic Committee.

"I'm proud of my work adding hundreds of police officers to keep Queens streets safe, preventing over 1,000 teacher layoffs in Queens schools, and saving fire houses throughout New York from closure," Quinn said in a statement.

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