04/12/2012 05:15 pm ET Updated Apr 12, 2012

Tom Barrett Picks Up Union Endorsements In Wisconsin Recall Race

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett announced his first endorsements from unions on Thursday in the race to unseat Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R).

Barrett, who is locked in a primary fight with three other opponents, picked up endorsements from three unions: the statewide Amalgamated Transit Union, Operating Engineers Local 317 and the Iron Workers District Council of North Central States.

“This election is critically important for labor, and we believe Tom is the most electable candidate in the field,” Local 317 business manager Mark Maierle said in a statement released by the Barrett campaign. “Barrett gives our state the best chance to get back on the right path, restore collective bargaining rights, and protect the future of working families and the middle class.”

While mayor, Barrett at times squared off with unions. Wisconsin leaders with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) -- which has endorsed the mayor's leading primary opponent -- circulated a video attacking Barrett, for which it later apologized. Barrett also recently announced the endorsements of former Rep. Dave Obey (D-Wis.) and retiring Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.).

Former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk is the other frontrunner in the Democratic primary for the recall. Until Thursday, every union that endorsed in the race had backed her, including the state AFSCME, AFL-CIO, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and others.