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Backing a Governor to Confront the Special Interests

“Our delegates chose to take action in the governor’s race on Saturday because they’re tired of the non-stop attacks on working people,” said AFT Connecticut President Jan Hochadel. “Politicians in Hartford have been carrying water for Wall Street and the right-wing for the past two years, leaving Connecticut’s middle class behind. We’re proud to back Ned because as governor, he’ll confront — not cave to — those same special interests,” added Hochadel, herself a long-time educator in Stamford and Waterbury.
Hochadel’s comments refer to the importance of this year’s gubernatorial election, which follows two consecutive legislative sessions dominated by proposals to eliminate union members’ rights. A toxic state budget package authored by Republican lawmakers and passed last September rolled-back collective bargaining, eliminated good jobs and hiked taxes for middle and working class families.
Lamont’s stand on respecting organized labor’s contributions were instrumental in the majority of the federation’s elected delegates choosing his candidacy in a straw poll conducted at Saturday’s convention. An online survey of the broader membership a week earlier in which over 20,000 members were asked to weigh-in showed similar support for the educator and entrepreneur.
Click here for Hochadel’s announcement of the endorsement sent Saturday to members via e-mail.
“Delegates overwhelmingly chose Ned on Saturday because he respects us,” said Bob Riccitelli, the executive rep for our AFT Connecticut-affiliated State Vocational Federation of Teachers. “For months, he’s been on the campaign trail, listening to union members — elected leaders and rank-and-file members alike. He gets that to deliver his message, he needs the labor movement at his side,” added Riccitelli, the sustainable architectural department head at Platt Technical High School in Milford.
Riccitelli — who at Saturday’s convention called the endorsement resolution for a floor vote — refers to Lamont’s efforts since announcing his gubernatorial bid in January to engage union members. Early on and frequently since the candidate has reached out to the state’s labor movement in order to better understand the challenges facing all working people in Connecticut.
Lamont in March attended a regional meeting in Southington (above) to hear from members of affiliated unions working and living in central Connecticut. After completing a candidate questionnaire in early April he sat down at our state federation headquarters in Rocky Hill to hear from our legislative and political action committee (LPAC).
Delegates to the Connecticut AFL-CIO — including nearly 50 members of AFT-affiliated local unions — then heard Lamont’s pitch on the first day of their biennial political convention. There he made a strong case for a governor who shares the labor movement’s values, saying, “the right to organize is a right that makes us a fundamentally better state.”
Click here for press reporting on Lamont’s win in a straw poll at the April 6 event.
“Politics is not a spectator sport; as union members, we have to be all in,” said Sherri Calixte, RN, the president of our Backus Federation of Nurses. “I’m proud of my sisters and brothers who stood up on Saturday to support endorsing Ned. As a nurse, I know that a crisis is a call to action. Acting now is how to prevent a crisis in November,” added Calixte, an emergency department nurse at William Backus Hospital in Norwich.
Calixte’s comments refer to the importance of choosing a gubernatorial candidate ahead of the major political parties’ nominating conventions this spring and their primary elections in August. The strategic plan for 2018 ratified last December by AFT Connecticut’s executive committee called for “an expanded process for early endorsements” with a focus on member engagement throughout the year.
Click here for our earlier report on the formal adoption of the blueprint.
Hochadel in her initial endorsement announcement Saturday encouraged members’ active participation in our state federation’s political efforts going forward. She closed her message saying, “it’s going to take the ‘U and I in Union’ to protect our collective bargaining rights and resist the powerful special interests bent on stealing them.”
Click here to send e-mail to volunteer for our “labor is your neighbor” program.

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