A trio of trade unions representing 9,000 Virginia workers are putting their money behind endorsements of former Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy in her campaign for governor.
The United Brotherhood of Carpenters, the Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 26 are contributing $350,000 to Carroll Foy, a Democrat from Prince William County who resigned her House of Delegates seat this month to focus on her gubernatorial bid.
Foy is emerging as the favorite of labor unions after legislative victories that include requiring paying workers a prevailing wage on publicly procured construction projects and stiffening civil penalties for wage theft. She also co-sponsored successful bills to raise the minimum wage, allow state and local governments to require use of project labor agreements and expand workers’ compensation eligibility for cancers presumed to be related to work.
She vowed Friday to make Virginia “a pro-worker model for the nation.”
“Jennifer Carroll Foy has a proven track record of fighting for the working families of Virginia,” said William C. Sproule, executive secretary-treasurer of the Eastern Atlantic States regional council of carpenters, in an endorsement announced Friday.
“For far too long, Virginia has been led by politicians who ignored the problems of working men and women,” Sproule said. “Jennifer Carroll Foy has proven to be a real advocate and representative of the working class.”
The endorsements — and the money behind them — give Carroll Foy a boost in a crowded field for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination that includes former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a formidable fundraiser closely aligned to business interests; state Sen. Jennifer McClellan, a corporate attorney for Verizon; Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, also an attorney; and Del. Lee Carter, D-Prince William, a self-described Democratic socialist.
IBEW Local 26, representing electricians in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C., is giving her campaign $100,000, in addition to $50,000 the union contributed in June.
“Jennifer Carroll Foy is a candidate that comes along once in a lifetime,” said George Hogan, business manager of IBEW Local 26, in Friday’s announcement. “A champion for working families and all of labor, she sponsored and shepherded the passage of bills to improve the lives of everyday Virginians, including a bill to establish prevailing wages for public construction projects and combat wage theft.”
The prevailing wage legislation will take effect May 1, requiring the state to set prevailing wage rates for public procurement projects to prevent contractors from misclassifying employees as independent contractors and failing to provide them overtime pay and other benefits.
The carpenters unions have encouraged lawsuits filed by non-union workers against subcontractors over alleged illegal labor practices on big projects, including construction of the new General Assembly Building in Richmond and work at Virginia Commonwealth University and other higher education institutions.
The unions are giving $250,000 to Carroll Foy, which includes a $150,000 contribution by the Carpenters Legislative Program of Greater Pennsylvania earlier this month and $100,000 from the union affiliate in Virginia. The Eastern Atlantic States regional council is based in Pennsylvania. The United Brotherhood of Carpenters is the international union based in Washington.
Carroll Foy, a native of Petersburg and a criminal defense attorney first elected to the House in 2017, said her support for labor is rooted in her personal background. She was raised by her grandparents, who struggled financially after her grandmother suffered a disabling stroke.
“I know what it’s like to work hard without support and barely survive on the minimum wage,” she said in the announcement. “That’s why I fought hard in the House of Delegates to strengthen workers rights, improve quality health care, and raise the minimum wage.”
“Unions are key to addressing income inequality, strengthening workforce development, and making Virginia the best place in the country to work and raise a family,” she said. “Not only that, trade unions are paramount to ensuring racial, social and economic justice for all.”