On February 6, the powerful Service Employees International Union endorsed all three candidates for the 18th Assembly District in the East Bay. However, a month later the union took the unusual step of withdrawing its backing for one of the candidates, AC Transit board member Joel Young, for using the union's confidential questionnaire against his two opponents, according to a source with direct knowledge of the union's deliberations.
SEIU, like other labor unions, had viewed Alameda Vice Mayor Rob Bonta, Peralta Community College Trustee Abel Guillen, and Young as bona fide backers of the union cause and issued support for all three Democrats. However, shortly after announcing the endorsement, the union began to hear rumblings that Young was using copies of his opponent's questionnaires — which were supposed to be solely for the union’s internal use — against his opponents.
Two sources with knowledge of Young's transgression say he used the questionnaires to specifically illustrate how "liberal" his opponent, Guillen, was in contrast to his own positions. Young, according to one of the sources, is attempting to appeal to moderates in the district by labeling himself a "business democrat."
Young’s campaign did not respond to requests for comment.
A representative for the union said the questionnaires are "not intended for public use" and the union found Young's use of the questionnaire on numerous occasions against candidates also endorsed by SEIU as "definitely upsetting."
SEIU’s decision to quickly pull Young’s endorsement is substantial and rare, according to the union source.
It also represents yet another blow for Young’s candidacy. Just over a year ago, Young appeared destined for a successful political career, but then the wheels began to fall off when a girlfriend alleged that he hit her in the face. Young then reportedly threatened to assault Jason Overman, an aide for Oakland Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan, at an event last January. In both instances, temporary restraining orders were filed against Young.
Young's former SEIU endorsement was still listed on his campaign website as of Monday afternoon this week. "We'll give him the appropriate time to scrub his web page," said the union source, but Young's lack of swiftness in updating his endorsement list to reflect former supporters who have jumped ship also caused grumblings among some local elected officials. Shortly after speaking to the union representative Monday, Young's campaign had deleted all references to SEIU's former endorsement.