Charles Wowkanech

Wowkanech backs up national AFL-CIO endorsement of Obama

A day after John McCain Republicans pulled the curtain off their campaign headquarters in working class Woodbridge, the national AFL-CIO endorsed Barack Obama for president and the state organization’s chief reaffirmed support for the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.

"At our convention we unanimously adopted a recommendation to endorse Obama," said newly re-elected AFL-CIO President Charles Wowkanech. "Our program is up and running. We’re doing voter registration projects and getting information out to job sites.".

McCain’s New Jersey supporters are targeting what they describe as "Reagan Democrats," or working and middle class voters, including primary election supporters of Hillary Clinton.

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Friday, May 2, 2008

Wowkanech could face challenge for union post

There is considerable speculation that New Jersey Building Trades Council President Bill Mullen is weighing a bid for New Jersey AFL-CIO President against longtime incumbent Charles Wowkanech. Wowkanech has been feuding with a substantial wing of the state Democratic Party since last year after he backed some Republican legislative candidates in some hotly contested races. Mullen is viewed as a potentially strong challenger to Wowkanech, if he decides to make the race.

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AFL-CIO: No candidate can get 2/3 vote for endorsement

The New Jersey AFL-CIO, which said today that they are neutral in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, is not expected to make any endorsement before the June 3 primary because neither Frank Lautenberg nor Rob Andrews can get the two-thirds majority needed to win the formal backing of the union.  This reflects poorly on the state AFL-CIO President, Charles Wowkanech, who prematurely announced support of Lautenberg yesterday. 

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AFL-CIO president backs Lautenberg over Andrews

AFL-CIO president Charles Wowkanech backs Lautenberg over Andrews.AFL-CIO president Charles Wowkanech backs Lautenberg over Andrews.

As south and north Jersey locals today sparred with statements of support for either U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg or potential challenger U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews, AFL-CIO President Charlie Wowkanech said he backs Lautenberg.

"I polled my executive board of 40 members and the level of support was overwhelmingly for Lautenberg," said the head of New Jersey's one million-strong labor organization.

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Roberts keeps Wowkanech in the dog house

N.J. AFL-CIO President Charles Wowkanech with top Democrats in 2002.: Now that he's feuding with the Assembly Speaker Joe Roberts, he couldn't get on a stage like that today.N.J. AFL-CIO President Charles Wowkanech with top Democrats in 2002.: Now that he's feuding with the Assembly Speaker Joe Roberts, he couldn't get on a stage like that today.
When you pick the wrong horse in a harsh political battle, paybacks in politics are often extraordinarily difficult.  That’s what New Jersey AFL-CIO President Charles Wowkanech is finding out, now that he is “persona non grata” with Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts and the extended Roberts political organization. 

The Star-Ledger’s The Auditor had an important report on the Roberts/Wowknech feud last Sunday, and since that print version of that column sometimes differs from the online version, here are some excerpts worth noting, especially considering the players involved:

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Labor euphoric over passage of paid family leave, while Lonegan fumes

When the state Senate pasAFL-CIO President Charles WowkanechAFL-CIO President Charles Wowkanechsed paid family leave today by a vote of 22-16, AFL-CIO President Charles Wowkanech admitted he felt a particular sense of satisfaction after a hard, 12-year trudge.

"We're exhausted, but we're very happy," said Wowkanech, whose outfit numbers 1 million strong in New Jersey, and who remembers first trying to float the idea of paid family leave over a decade ago.

What the Senate passed today was a bill that enables employees to pay into a fund that would allow them to receive compensation while taking up to six weeks off from work to care for their own health or the health of a relative. According to the bill, "an amount not to exceed $25 million may be transferred from the state's temporary disability fund to the new account to support start-up costs." The program is designed to run on the monies employees pay into the funds, which amounts to about $33 apiece annually.

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Paid family leave sure to be a "squeaker" come Monday

Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo, one of the sponsors of the Assembly version of paid family leave, which came out of committee today.Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo, one of the sponsors of the Assembly version of paid family leave, which came out of committee today. 

The lobbyists' feeding frenzy continued in Trenton today as representatives from both the business and labor communities zeroed in on lawmakers in the hallways of power and attempted to elicit the promise of a yes or no vote on the issue of paid family leave.

The measure would extend state liability insurance to employees for up to six weeks, enabling workers to care for themselves, a newborn or a sick relative. Funding would come from the workers contributing on average a dollar a week from their salaries.

Read More > Winner of the Year 2007: George Norcross

Sonny McCullough said it best in his election night concession speech: “I’d like to congratulate George Norcross.”

Norcross had a very good year for two reasons: he won the two races he was most heavily invested in, and he made tens of millions through the sale of Commerce Bank. The first expands his political power, and the second gives him even greater financial security – something that, in New Jersey, will make him even more powerful.

The General of the South was one of the driving forces behind the elections of Democrats Jeff Van Drew and Jim Whelan to the State Senate. He showed that his money and manpower could oust incumbents – hardly pushovers – in tough races. His ability to raise money – quickly and in large denominations – can stop a team of oxen dead in their tracks. He doesn’t let people tell him no, and gets that few New Jersey politicians have the testicular fortitude to turn him down anyway.

Whelan’s victory, particularly, gives Norcross added clout with the Atlantic City gaming industry. And Asselta’s defeat showed that Norcross’ support is more important than the active endorsement of New Jersey AFL-CIO President Charles Wowkanech.

After the election, Norcross quickly endorsed a longtime rival, Richard Codey, for Senate President, and then got his man, Steve Sweeney, elected Senate Majority Leader – evidence that the truly successful know how – and when – to use their power. His friendship with Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts gives him incredible sway in both houses of the New Jersey Legislature. His alliance with Senator Raymond Lesniak gives the Norcross machine an embassy in the north.

Norcross faces new challenges in 2008: he is positioning to pick up a congressional seat the Republicans have held since 1884 – maybe even a second one, if Jeff Van Drew runs— and if Frank Lautenberg changes his mind, is well positioned to help Rob Andrews win a U.S. Senate seat.

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Wake-Up Call

Morning Digest: April 15, 2014

East Side Neighborhood Association hosts packed Paterson Mayor's Forum PATERSON – On the eastern end of Market Street stands a restaurant amid the clinging remnants of industry and a city’s trampled history, where inside under chandeliers in front of a crowd of 100 people, seven candidates for mayor made...


Ryan's Budget Plan

BY ALBIO SIRES This week, Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI), released yet again another budget with misplaced priorities that will slow our economic recovery and destroy American jobs.  Rather than address the priorities of the... Read More >


When it comes to profiling Christie, facts are for wussies (4/10/14) - As the national media stories on our Guv pile up, expect more blunders about the Garden State.... more »
 (4-9-14) Campaign Finance Reform as "Theater of the Absurd" - The U. S. Supreme Court’s ruling last week in McCutcheon, et al. v. Federal Election Commission brings... more »
This week I begin a series called Dispatches from Somewhere Else. Based on my on-going experiences as an everyman in New Jersey politics, these Dispatches review the hollowness of... more »
Watching Governor Chris Christie's shocking BridgeGate implosion, it's easy to forget the time when he truly seemed unstoppable.  Blessed with incredible political gifts and a Jersey bluster to match,... more »

Quote of the Day

Quote of the day

“Receiving $74,000 in severance pay is entirely inappropriate and unjustifiable. No elected official is entitled to sick or vacation time. You don’t put out your hand and beg, you raise your hand and say ‘Thank God I was healthy.' There’s no reason for anyone to collect money on the way out the door or for overtime.” - Council President Andre Sayegh, candidate for Paterson mayor.



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