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State Building Trades Unions Endorse Sestak (updated)

Rep. Joe Sestak, the Democratic nominee for Senate, receives a big endorsement from the state Building and Construction Trades Council of labor unions.

In the Democratic primary, Rep. Joe Sestak saw most of the big labor endorsements go to his opponent, 29-year incumbent Sen. Arlen Specter.

Now that Sestak is the Democratic nominee, traditional elements of the party base are beginning to coalesce around him.

On Tuesday, the Pennsylvania State Building and Construction Trades Council announced its unanimous endorsement of Sestak for the Nov. 2 general election.

Sestak said he was not expecting the endorsement; he was just scheduled to give his standard "working families" pitch to the annual convention.

"I'm very happy to receive the endorsement," Sestak said later in an interview. "Labor and I have the same objectives: jobs, opportunity and real income growth."

Sestak said he praised Specter, particularly for the senator's work on increasing federal funding for medical research, and said "there are big shoes to fill."

The announcement was made at the organization's convention in Harrisburg by President Frank Sirianni. The state building trades council represents 16 regional councils and 118 local unions in the construction industry.

"Pennsylvania does not need to move backwards by electing a candidate who has already shown his inability to lead as a congressman," Sirianni said in a statement. He praised Sestak's support for tougher worker-safety laws and of ending tax breaks for moving jobs offshore, among other positions.

On the same trip to Harrisburg, Sestak said he taped a program at PCN and met with officials at the SEIU, the service employees' union.

"I do think it's important to touch people and organizations" after the primary, Sestak said. And yes, he still is talking about challenging "the establishment," even as much of the Democratic side of it welcomes him now.

"I've always said it's important to work with the establishment," Sestak said. Unless they're wrong.