Feb. 4, 2012 | Two of the state’s most powerful labor unions this week backed Abel Guillen for the hotly-contested 18th assembly district.

The back-to-back endorsements from the California Nurses Association and California Teachers Association has put renewed focus on the Peralta Community College trustee after also reporting positive fundraising totals during the last quarter of last year.

The backing of two of the most aggressive labor groups in California is a definite shot in the arm for Guillen’s campaign. In addition to campaign mailers and materials, each union has a large and willing army of members ready to hit the streets for desired candidates and causes.

Guillen reported over $107,000 in cash on hand putting him between $25,000 behind Alameda Vice Mayor Rob Bonta and trailing AC Transit Boardmember Joel Young by $64,000. One East Bay political consultant told The Citizen, Guillen’s endorsements put him at nearly equal financial footing with his opponents for the time being.

The California Nurses Association’s (CNA) strength has been evident in the Bay Area over the past few years in repeated labor battles against Sutter Health on both sides of the Bay. In some ways, the continuing story at San Leandro Hospital regarding its possible closing by Sutter, has been facilitated by the group to the degree that many believe the facility would have been shuttered two years ago without their assistance.

“Yeah, they don’t play around,” said Guillen of CNA’s ability to drum up support for issues.

While the nod from CNA was somewhat a surprise since it is Bonta who has a background with hospital issues as a former board member of the Alameda Healthcare District, the endorsement from the California Teachers Association (CTA) dovetails more closely with Guillen’s work at the local community college district. Guillen has held the elected seat since 2006.

“As our public schools face greater challenges, we need leaders in the legislature who are proven problem solvers, can bring people together, and are committed to strengthening our schools,” said Dean Vogel, president of CTA.

The California Federation of Teachers also endorsed Guillen Jan. 30.