Florida’s major labor union for hospitality workers, UNITE HERE, is launching a new television and internet commercial attacking Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham over her family’s involvement in the American Dream Miami megamall.
The 30-second spot, “Mega Mall Millionaire Gwen Graham,” from the union’s political action committee, charges that she has a $14 million stake in her family company, which is selling land for the controversial mall being planned in Miami-Dade County.
“While Gwen and her family make millions, Florida will be stuck with poverty wage jobs, endangered wildlife, and massive traffic congestion,” a narrator charges in the ad.
And it charges that would be happening even though she is campaigning on improving wages and protecting the environment.
“Sorry Gwen, but actions speak louder than words,” the narrator concludes.
UNITE HERE, which represents more than 260,000 mostly service industry workers across the country including at least 30,000 hospitality workers at Walt Disney World, other Central Florida resorts, and in Miami, has endorsed one of Graham’s rivals, Philip Levine, in the Democratic gubernatorial race.
Most recent polls have shown Levine and Graham well on top of the pack of five major Democrats that also include Andrew Gillum, Chris King, and Jeff Greene. Levine, King and Greene also have attacked Graham for her relationship to the mall, Greene doing so in statewide TV commercials that Graham then countered with rebuttal TV commercials.
Graham’s positions: She stepped down from any involvement in her family’s businesses years ago; the Graham Companies are selling some of the land for the mall’s development, but otherwise are not involved; the mall’s site is actually well within the area already planned by Miami-Dade County for development, not anything that sprawls into unplanned territory.
American Dream received approval from the Miami-Dade County Commission in May after a contentious battle during which opponents, citing its proximity to the Everglades watershed and other factors, dubbed it the “American nightmare.” The mall is being developed by Triple Five Worldwide Group of Edmonton, Canada.
UNITE HERE already has attacked Graham and her family’s company over their involvement, with earlier statements supporting Greene’s attacks.
“We think that Gwen Graham can’t hide behind the fact that it’s her family who’s involved in the project,” Wendi Walsh, Secretary-Treasurer for UNITE HERE Local 355 in Miami, said in a news release. “She skirts the issue at every turn.”
In that release, the union said it is spending six figures to target more than 800,000 Democratic voters, mostly in South Florida. In addition to advertising on social media and websites, they’re buying 50 30-second ad spots during morning and evening shows on CNN, MSNBC, OWN and BET in the Miami/Fort Lauderdale area.