This Ain't Detroit: Ron Natinsky Goes After Mike Rawlings For His Union Endorsements

It'll be a shame to see this mayoral campaign season come to an end a week from Saturday now that it's getting so...campaigny. Take, for instance, this email that just arrived in the in-box with the all-caps subject header: "RAWLINGS PLEDGES TO SUPPORT THE RIGHTS OF WORKERS TO JOIN UNIONS AND NEGOTIATE WORKING CONDITIONS." It actually came from Ron Natinsky's campaign, which says if you go over to Rawlings' site, you'll note he's been endorsed by both the Service Employees International Union and Workers United.

According to Natinsky's campaign, the candidates were asked by the unions to fill out the SEIU/Workers United Questionnaire before meeting with the groups on April 16. The questionnaire, which follows in full, features at the very top a "Candidate Statement," which reads, in part:

I affirmatively seek the endorsement of SEIU COPE. In seeking this endorsement, I pledge to support the rights of workers to join a Union and negotiate about working conditions.
Natinsky's spokesperson, Becky Mayad, tells Unfair Park this morning the council member never "even considered" signing the statement because of the pledge. But since Rawlings got the endorsement, well, surely he signed it. And even if he didn't, well, the endorsement alone is plenty troubling, as far as Natinsky's concerned. Here's his statement in full:
Apparently Mr. Rawlings wants to turn Dallas into a union town like Chicago or Detroit. When SEIU sent out this candidate questionnaire, it stated that "In seeking this endorsement, I pledge to support the rights of workers to join a Union and negotiate about working conditions."

This was a pledge I could not make, and I did not seek their endorsement.

If this pledge is pursued, unionization will keep companies from relocating to Dallas, stifle job creation, cause our taxes to increase to pay for these new benefits, not to mention the fraud and abuse that is inherent in other cities that are unionized. Mr. Rawling's [sic] liberal ideas about how to lead our city run counter to the beliefs of the average Dallas citizen and conflict with Texas' statute as a Right To Work state.

I'm trying to reach Rawlings now and will update accordingly. (Perhaps we'll catch him at his 10 a.m. press conference, where he'll receive the endorsement of Domingo Garcia and council member Steve Salazar.) Of course, Natinsky's been endorsed by a union as well: The Dallas Police Association, which signed off on the council member without even meeting with the other candidates.

Update at 9:35 a.m.: Rawlings just called to respond to Natinsky's statement and says he absolutely signed it for reasons that follow, then went on to call Natinsky's release nothing more than a "smokescreen." He also pointed out: "Tom Leppert also signed this pledge and got the endorsement of this union, and I don't think Tom Leppert wanted to turn Dallas into Chicago or Detroit." Much more on the other side.

When asked if he signed the doc below, Rawlings said he sure did. Why?

"Because these are sanitation workers, a lot of them, and just like our police force and firefighters, these are great people," he said. "I don't understand how this is any different than [Natinsky] being endorsed by the police unions. It's just a smokescreen. The money he's got he's using to send press releases to you guys.

"It's also important to keep in mind that Tom Leppert also signed this pledge. He got the endorsement of this union, and i don't think Tom Leppert wanted to turn Dallas in to Chicago or Detroit. And if he did Natinsky should say right now, publicly, that Tom Leppert wanted to turn Dallas into Chicago or Detroit, and if he does say that, then at least the guy's consistent. And if he rejects those police unions' endorsements, then at least he's consistent. He's not accurate, but at least he's consistent."

Rawlings pointed to Natinsky having been endorsed -- "proudly, proudly, proudly" -- by the Dallas Firefighters Association, the Dallas Police Association and the Dallas Retired Fire Fighters Association.

"It's clear he's just behind the eight ball," Rawlings said, "and trying to divert attention from the stories about he and Mr. [Dwaine] Caraway and their attempts to weaken the code of ethics people are upset about."
SEIU Dallas_Questionnaire_City_Council Final SP (2)

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky