COLUMBUS, Ohio — Democratic state Sen. Joe Schiavoni (shuh-VOHN’-ee) has scored the first endorsement of a national labor union in the 2018 primary for governor.

The Youngstown-area lawmaker won the backing of the Utility Workers of America on Thursday.

The organization represents thousands of unionized workers at public and private utility providers across the state, including AEP, FirstEnergy, Dayton Power & Light and Columbia Gas.

President Michael Langford said it supports Schiavoni for his vision and experience in “lunch-bucket economics,” modernizing Ohio’s infrastructure and balancing the role of the traditional energy sector in a diversified energy portfolio.

Schiavoni’s competitors for the Democratic nomination include former U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton, former state Rep. Connie Pillich and Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley.

They are vying to succeed Republican Gov. John Kasich (KAY’-sik), who is term-limited.