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Lumberton Mayor Gina LaPlaca.

AFL-CIO withdraws LaPlaca endorsement

Democratic Assembly candidate dropped for crossing picket line in ’16 Verizon strike

By David Wildstein, October 18 2019 12:27 pm

The New Jersey AFL-CIO has revoked their endorsement of Democratic Assembly candidate Gina LaPlaca in the 8th district after the New Jersey Globe reported that she crossed a picket line as a substitute worker during the 2016 Verizon strike.

The Burlington County Central Labor Council narrowly voted last night to continue their support of LaPlaca.  The margin, sources said, was just one vote.

AFL-CIO president Charles Wowkanech called LaPlaca’s decision to work as a scab during the strike “a violation of one of the most basic labor principles.

“In regard to showing solidarity with workers at their time of struggle, it doesn’t get more basic than respecting a strike and honoring a picket line,” Wowkanech said. “Those that chose to ignore this will not receive the support of our organization, it’s that simple.”

The union will still back LaPlaca’s running mate, Evesham attorney Mark Natale.

Democrats have made flipping the Burlington-based 8th district one of their top priorities for the 2019 cycle.

Earlier this year, State Sen. Dawn Addiego (D-Evesham) switched parties after serving eleven years as a Republican legislator.

LaPlaca and Natale face freshman incumbent Ryan Peters (R-Hainesport) and former Burlington County Sheriff Jean Stanfield.

Stanfield defeated two-term incumbent Joseph Howarth (R-Evesham) in the June Republican primary after GOP leaders determined that he had considered joining Addiego and switching parties.

LaPlaca was a lobbyist for Verizon until late last year.

“I applaud the decision made by the New Jersey AFL-CIO to revoke the endorsement of a picket line crossing candidate and further call on the local trade councils and leaders of each respective building trade to do the same,” said Burlington County Freeholder Latham Tiver, the business representative for Operating Engineers Local 825.  “As a third-generation union-member, it is imperative that we stand together to support our most important values – the right to organize, collectively bargain, respecting a strike and honoring a picket line. Union organizations should never support someone who stood against working men and women…regardless of political affiliation.”

This story was updated at 1:57 PM.

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