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Posted at 12:12 PM ET, 02/23/2011

Biddle wins endorsement of hotel workers union

By Mike DeBonis

Democrat Sekou Biddle has won one of the first major endorsements in the at-large D.C. Council race -- one that could give him a real advantage in the April 26 special election.

UNITE HERE Local 25, which represents about 8,000 city hotel and restaurant workers, is giving Biddle the early nod. Votes from the membership itself might not add up to a whole lot for Biddle, given that many live outside the city. But Local 25 is one of the best-organized labor groups in the city and it is pledging to make a difference in volunteers and in working to get members of other unions to vote.

John Boardman, Local 25's executive secretary-treasurer, said in a statement that Biddle "understands the issues facing working families in these challenging economic times" and "will fight tirelessly to bring good jobs to the city."

Biddle said in an interview that the endorsement "continues to demonstrate the leadership that's attracting people outside of my core competency, which is education."

In terms of the impact on his campaign, Biddle said, "The more help and support we can get the better, and frankly, the sooner we can get it the better." He said he is pursuing other union support.

Local 25 has been a powerful if largely behind-the-scenes force in city politics. It has pushed to guarantee union jobs at city-aided developments that involve hotels. It also worked in 2008 to defeat a bill that would limit noise levels around the city, concerned that the measure would curb its street protests.

As anyone who works in the 1100 block of 15th Street NW could tell you, the union has been picketing the Madison Hotel for weeks, claiming that the hotel's new owner and operator are refusing to honor a previously negotiated labor agreement.

Asked if he will join the picket line, Biddle said he "probably will not be not be doing that."

"I have a few things on my plate these days," he said.

By Mike DeBonis  | February 23, 2011; 12:12 PM ET
Categories:  The District  
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