Labor Splits Over Alaska’s Congressional Race

The Alaska AFL-CIO held their biennial convention late last week and while the body agreed to endorse Sen. Lisa Murkowski, they chose not to offer their usual endorsement to Rep. Don Young.

Steve Lindbeck

Steve Lindbeck

Rep. Don Young

Rep. Don Young

Actually, they chose not to even to talk about endorsing anyone in Alaska’s congressional race. Such was the universal understanding that the body was so divided on the subject that neither Young, nor his Democrat challenger Steve Lindbeck had any chance at getting the â…” majority required to secure the endorsement.

The Lindbeck campaign is casting this as a major rebuke of Young by labor, saying in a press release issued Wednesday:

“In a historic move, the Alaska AFL-CIO delegation decided to drop their long-time support of Rep. Don Young during their convention at the Captain Cook Hotel in Anchorage.”

“To date, Democratic challenger Steve Lindbeck has won the support of several unions across the state, including the American Federation of Teachers, ASEA/AFSCME Local 52, the Inlandboatmen’s Union, and Masters Mates and Pilots.”

“The vote was the first time in recent memory that the Alaska AFL-CIO did not endorse Rep. Don Young, a 43-year incumbent.”

Lindbeck’s statement is correct but lacks some critical context. Perhaps The Midnight Sun’s memory goes back further than some, but we recall that while the Alaska AFL-CIO has endorsed Young in every one of his races in al least the last 10 years, the organization chose to offer dual endorsements in 2008 and 2010. That meant the organization endorsed both Young and his Democrat challengers Ethan Berkowitz and Harry Crawford respectively in those races.

We leave it to you the reader to decide what, if any, difference there is in endorsing both candidates vs. endorsing neither candidate.

Sources inside the labor movement have told The Midnight Sun the AFL-CIO non-endorsement decision came down to a fight between public employee unions and maritime unions — who have criticised Young over an Alyeska Pipeline Services Co. contract for tanker escortson one side supporting Lindbeck and trade unions on the other supporting Young.

This is a reality born out in press releases from each side late last week. You can view Lindbeck’s release and his list of supportive unions above. Here is an excerpt from Young’s similar release:

The following organizations — representing occupations and trades from across the state– have all come out to proudly endorse Congressman Don Young:

  • United Association of Plumbers and Steamfitters Union Local 367
  • Alaska Teamsters Local 959
  • Laborers’ International Union of North America
  • Operating Engineers Local 302
  • Alaska Regional Carpenters Local 1281
  • Building and Construction Trades Council of Southcentral Alaska
  • American Federation of Government Employees

At this point, the fight for labor support in Alaska’s congressional race is a draw.