Former Pennsylvania labor leader J.J. Johnston has joined Katie McGinty’s campaign for Governor as a senior advisor on labor issues. Johnston is a native of Western Pennsylvania who began his career in the labor movement as a pipefitter. Johnston became President of the Greater Westmoreland Labor Council, AFL-CIO, and then Executive Director of the SEIU Pennsylvania State Council.
“I am proud to join Katie McGinty’s team because she is the strongest candidate to take on Tom Corbett,” Johnston said. “As Governor, Katie will stand up for working men and women and will fight for policies that rebuild the middle class and create jobs for Pennsylvanians.”
After leaving the SEIU Pennsylvania State Council, Johnston went on to serve as SEIU’s International Director in California where he oversaw the work of local unions representing over 750,000 members and helped lead SEIU’s successful efforts to fight back then-Governor Schwarzenegger’s attempt to pass regressive, anti-worker ballot initiatives. J.J. then became Chief of Staff of SEIU where he oversaw a $300 million annual budget and a team of 700 staff of North America’s largest labor union.
“J.J. Johnston brings a vast amount of knowledge of Pennsylvania politics and issues that affect working men and women,” McGinty said. “J.J. is respected in labor and throughout Pennsylvania. Adding him to our team makes us a much stronger campaign.”
McGinty’s campaign appears to capitalizing on Western PA campaign hires—a smart move given that the current gubernatorial campaign pool lacks a candidate from outside Eastern or Central PA. Mike Mikus, McGinty’s campaign manager, was the architect of successful upset wins in southwestern PA by Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, Congressman Mark Critz and Congressman Jason Altmire.
Senior McGinty staff also includes former Democratic Party chairman T.J. Rooney and Frederick Yang, who serves as pollster for Senator Bob Casey and Mayor Michael Nutter.