Morales’ mayoral campaign stymied amid unresolved labor dispute with staffers

Mayoral candidate Dianne Morales
Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

Nonprofit founder Dianne Morales’ campaign for mayor was seriously hindered on Wednesday after members of her staff rejected an offer to resolve their ongoing work stoppage.

Morales said the window had closed on a period that the city’s Campaign Finance Board permitted her campaign to continue paying the striking workers. Attempts to negotiate a deal to get the staffers back to work had completely failed, and as of Wednesday, the campaign could no longer continue using CFB funds to pay the staff.

“I respect the matching funds program and will not operate in possible violation of the rules that apply,” Morales said in a June 9 statement posted on Twitter. “While a few may take exception with this decision, I will not position my campaign to assume possible liability from violations of established laws, regardless of my long history of support for workers and unionizing efforts.”

After this story was initially published Wednesday, a spokesperson for Morales said that the campaign is nonetheless “continuing full speed to primary day,” with a staff on board working daily. 

“The campaign feels confident with the remaining staff that they have a path to primary day,” the spokesperson said.

Four leaders of an unionization effort within the Morales campaign were terminated in late May. The workers claimed that employees had been subjected to racial discrimination, sexual harassment and exploitation even as Morales took a zero-tolerance stance publicly to such behavior.

After the leaders were terminated, the members of the fledgling “Mayorales Union” walked off the job. They workers demanded that the terminated union organizers be rehired; access to the campaign office be restored; the implementation of a new leadership structure within the office; and the creation of a secure channel for which to file grievances.

Morales refused the demands and claimed publicly that the Mayorales Union was deliberately harming the campaign. The union members, on June 3, offered a memorandum of agreement pertaining to compensation and severance pay which was subsequently rejected.

The candidate claimed that she “offered to bring in an outside professional” to help mediate the impasse and negotiate a settlement, but that the union refused.

“We have reached a point where we can no longer risk possible liability by continuing to pay staff with public funds who are not working on behalf of the campaign,” she said on June 9.

The Mayorales Union said on June 9 that 40 campaign workers had been terminated in the wake of the candidate’s announcement Wednesday.

amNew York Metro reached out to the Mayorales Union for comment, and is awaiting a response.

Morales had been received some support from progressive groups in the Democratic mayoral primary set for June 22, but the most recent NY1 News/Ipsos poll released Monday had her well behind the front runners, getting only 5% of first-choice support from respondents.

This story was updated at 11:25 a.m. on June 10 to reflect comments from the Morales campaign.