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Once an opponent, AFL-CIO endorsing Alvarez

Carlosalvarez Leaving behind years of animosity and legal challenges over executive power, the huge  South Florida AFL-CIO will endorse Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez for re-election on  Thursday.

"We will start immediately reaching out to over 100,000 union members and their  household members in Miami-Dade County at their homes, by phone and most importantly at their worksite to educate them on the mayor's stance on workers' issues, get them registered to vote and encourage them to get on an absentee-ballot program," said Fred Frost, the union's president, in a news release.

It is an incredible turnabout for a union that endorsed Alvarez's opponent, Jimmy Morales, in 2004 and then led numerous lawsuits the following years to block Alvarez's strong-mayor campaign. But Alvarez won on both fronts, and Frost said it has turned out well for workers.

"All those things were never about him -- it was about the form of government," Frost told the Miami Herald. "We still feel very strongly that putting too much power in one person's hands is not good for working people, but ironically, with him at the helm, things are getting better for working people."

He cited Alvarez's defense of county workers' salaries and benefits, especially as tax cuts and falling property values strain budgets. The union is also looking to Alvarez to push for living-wage and other worker friendly rules as local government begins building massive projects such as the new Marlins ballpark and underwater tunnel to the Port of Miami.

Alvarez has already raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Aug. 26 election. His only declared opponent is Helen Williams, a former teacher who often speaks at Miami-Dade School Board meetings.