By Wilko Martínez-Cachero and Daniel Marcillo
With roughly a month to go until the congressional elections, Democratic candidate Liuba Grechen Shirley hosted a “Labor for Liuba” roundtable with labor workers on Friday, Oct. 5 in Bay Shore. She is attempting to unseat incumbent Republican congressman Peter King in New York’s 2nd District.
Fifteen different labor workers from around the island attended the roundtable and shared their opinions on what was wrong with their district. The event lasted an hour and a half. Grechen Shirley said she was happy with the turnout and discussion that followed.
“We have these roundtables all the time and I love them because it’s a real opportunity to sit down with leaders from our community and learn what issues are most important to them, what they’re working on, and how I can help and build stronger relationships,” Grechen Shirley said.
The Davis–Bacon Act of 1931, which refers to the prevailing federal wage for laborers, was one of the roundtable’s points of debate.
“Peter King always talks about Davis-Bacon and we want more,” Michael DiGiuseppe, a member communication coordinator at Local 259 United Auto Workers, said. “We’re seeing a deterioration of our collective bargaining rights and it’s not stopping. It’s just getting worse.”
“I’m not going to be part of mob rule,” Peter King said. “[Grechen Shirley] called some meeting that she wanted me to go to and I refused to do it because the whole thing was going to become a total circus. That serves no purpose at all.”
This is not the first time that King has referred to the idea of mob rule. He has also likened the protesters at Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing and the 2017 Charlottesville white supremacist rallies to mob rule.
“We need someone [like Liuba] who actually stands up for our community’s values,” Brian Young, a Bay Shore native and UCOMM Communications worker, said. “Our future’s at stake and we really need someone who’s looking forward, not just looking back.”
King has been in a position of power on Long Island for 25 years, first in the 3rd Congressional District and now in the 2nd District. He has spoken out against the Islamic community, voted against same-sex marriage, opposed abortion rights, and supported President Trump’s travel ban on predominantly Muslim countries.
“King has lost touch with his constituents,” Joe Brauner, a supporter of Grechen Shirley’s campaign, said. He started supporting Grechen Shirley’s campaign because she was a working Long Island woman and hopes that she will continue to emphasize inclusion and empathy for all Americans regardless of gender and ethnicity if she gets elected.
Grechen Shirley is an Amityville-born mother of two, daughter of a public school teacher, granddaughter of Russian immigrants, and economic development expert. Earlier this year, she made headlines for successfully petitioning to use campaign funds to take care of her children. She decided to run to represent working Americans and working Long Islanders.
“This election is about voting for your family,” Grechen Shirley said. “This is about making sure that you have a representative who will sit down and listen to you, and who will fight for you.”