The swirling speculation that third party candidate Jonathan Pelto could poach teachers away from Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in the November election might be a bit premature.
The 29,000 members of the American Federation of Teachers in Connecticut endorsed a slate of incumbents Thursday night that includes Malloy, who some progressives view as ripe for a challenge from the political left.
The union’s endorsement fell on the same day that Pelto, a key detractor of Malloy’s education agenda and Common Core, announced he was shifting from the exploratory phase of a run for governor to a full-fledged candidacy.
“We have chosen to support candidates who will act to prevent a ‘Wisconsin moment’ here in Connecticut,” Stephen McKeever, a former Middletown High School science teacher AFT Connecticut’s first vice-president, said in a statement. “We need leaders committed to preserving the rights of all workers to collectively bargain and not gutting union members’ benefits to score political points.”
McKeever was referring to comments made by Tom Foley, the GOP’s endorsed candidate for governor, in June 2013 to the Hartford Courant regarding Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.
Elected in 2010, Walker crafted a law stripping public-sector employee unions of most of their collective bargaining rights in Wisconsin. The controversial law requires state employees to pay more toward their health care and pensions, which Walker has said is justified to help rein in expenses. General wage increases are capped at the rate of inflation, unless otherwise stipulated by a public referendum.
In 2012, Walker survived a recall election in Wisconsin, elevating him to folk hero status in GOP circles.
“I keep talking about when is the Wisconsin moment going to come to Connecticut,” Foley told the Courant.