“Democracy is not a spectator sport,” said Angie Parkinson, a member of our state federation’s Legislative/Political Action Committee (LPAC). “The lesson of 2016 is that you’ve got to get off the couch. Union members understand that, and they’re looking for ways to get involved. We’re trying to help with that,” added Parkinson, a member of our affiliated Colchester Federation of Teachers and a co-founder of the grassroots political reform organization, DemEnter CT.
Parkinson and fellow LPAC members last November began last mobilizing their colleagues for this year’s critical elections for statewide office, the Connecticut General Assembly and the U.S. Congress. Their early efforts were fueled by the results of municipal elections in 2017, in which unprecedented numbers of union candidates ran for — and won — their races for local office.
for a photo of LPAC members last winter celebrating the success of the “labor is your neighbor” message.
“It’s really important to get involved early, with both candidates for governor and other elected offices,” said LPAC member Peter Morenus. “They will remember who was out there helping them on their first day at work; we want to be those people. They’re much more likely to have our back, as we had theirs,” added Morenus, the vice president for political education for our UConn Professional Employees Association (UCPEA).
Morenus’ comments refer to the previous phases of our political program, during which our LPAC interviewed those seeking their political party’s nomination in this year’s Primary Election. Following initial endorsements in May and June, activists began volunteering for the Connecticut AFL-CIO’s “Labor 2018” activities, ranging from neighborhood canvasses to “textbanking” fellow union members. Their efforts helped propel two-thirds of AFT Connecticut-endorsed candidates to victory on August 14 and a spot on the General Election ballot.
for photos of members rallying last month to “get out the vote” for fellow unionists.
“There are so many issues impacting us as union members,” said Alisha Blake, a member political organizer (MPO) with our state federation during the Primary Election. “Things like paid family leave and the ‘fight for 15’ are immediate concerns that, as healthcare professionals, we live every day. It’s crucial that we work to move them forward,” added Blake, a member of our L&M Hospital Healthcare Workers (HCW) union.
Opportunities to support those on the General Election ballot who will prioritize issues like Blake referred to are already available through mid October. Our state federation began recruiting volunteers ahead of Labor Day and has scheduled breakfasts with candidates and “labor walks” afterward to talk to union voters in local communities.
for the current list of “labor to labor” activities and candidate breakfasts.
AFT Connecticut leaders are also seeking additional MPOs to be part of volunteer recruitment efforts through November 6. Selected members will be provided training and compensation for their work in identifying and mobilizing fellow activists to participate in reaching out to union households in support of labor-endorsed candidates.
to send e-mail to volunteer for “labor to labor” activities or apply for an MPO position.