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OP-ED | Gov. Malloy Courts Labor Vote, Looking for Piece of the Union Money Pie

by | Jun 19, 2014 11:48pm () Comments | Commenting has expired | Share
Posted to: Election 2014, Opinion

It is difficult to understand why Gov. Dannel Malloy has spent the past three and a half years alienating the very people he will need this November if he wants to be re-elected. State employees and teachers, who, with their unions, came out for him in a big way in 2010, may not be as excited to be in his corner this year.

There are a number of reasons Malloy is now trying to rekindle his romance with the unions — and not just because he wants their votes. He also wants their money.

Although on paper the concessions he wrangled out of the public sector unions weren’t as severe as they could have been, you wouldn’t know that by the insults Malloy directed at state employees during the negotiations. And he’s been backpedaling ever since he said in 2012 that teachers have to just “show up for four years” to get tenure.

Maybe he figured they would forget how bad things got by the time the next election rolled around. Or perhaps he figured they had no place else to go, so it didn’t matter how he treated them.

Union leadership is clearly showing they will stand by Malloy, as he gathers their endorsements one by one. This week he picked up endorsements from AFT Connecticut and the AFL-CIO

But it is still unclear if union members will follow their leadership in supporting Malloy, particularly because of Jonathan Pelto’s entry into the gubernatorial race, but also because likely Republican candidate Tom Foley is clearly willing to reach out to the unions, more so than many conservative voters may feel comfortable with, as evidenced by his appearance at the AFL-CIO state convention this week.

Malloy’s willingness to court the unions also likely has something to do with the money and other political capital – somewhat ironically, the free labor in the form of hordes of volunteers – that the unions share with their endorsed candidates.

Unions spend big money in Connecticut. For example, the AFL-CIO gave nearly $40,000 to state and local candidates between 2010-2012, almost all to Democrats, with a little also going to the Working Families Party. And that was during a two-year stretch when there was no gubernatorial election in sight.

That’s just a fraction of the amount public sector unions gave to state and local candidates during the same two-year period, according to research I just completed. Those unions — including the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME); the American Federation of Teachers (AFT); and the Connecticut Education Association (CEA) — gave more than $800,000 to candidates and political action committees in Connecticut.

Those figures are based on the expenditures reported to the State Elections Enforcement Commission. Other reports, which are filed with the federal Department of Labor, show an even fuller picture of how unions flex their fiscal muscles in Connecticut elections.

According to those disclosures, which can be found at unionreports.gov, Connecticut’s public sector unions SEIU, AFT and AFSCME (none were found for the CEA) spent $4.3 million on political activities in Connecticut in the years 2011-2013.

It’s no wonder Malloy is now trying to make nice with the unions, and why Foley and Pelto both covet a relationship with them.

Foley is unlikely to get their endorsement or their money, but maybe if he could convince them he isn’t anti-union, they’d be less likely to go full tilt for Malloy in November. Pelto’s a different story — he clearly feels union leaders are ignoring their membership’s wishes by getting cozy with Malloy.

Of course, if union members don’t like the way their leadership is spending their union dues, they can ask for a refund of the part of their dues that are spent on politicking.

That could be the best way in this election year for unionized employees to show their dissatisfaction with their leadership’s continued support of the governor. 

Suzanne Bates is a writer living in South Windsor with her family. While traveling across the country as an Air Force spouse, she worked for news organizations including the Associated Press, the New Hampshire Union Leader, and Good Morning America Weekend. She recently completed a research fellowship at the Yankee Institute. Follow her on Twitter @suzebates.

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(13) Archived Comments

posted by: Bulldog1 | June 20, 2014  1:39pm

How cute:  Look how much the “Unions” spend on candidates to achieve their agenda.  Any idea how much business, bankers, hedge fund managers and assorted “clubs ” for growth spend to enact their agenda?  Lots more thanks very much. And lots of which is “dark money” whose source is never reported.

At least you’re on target about one thing Suzanne:  No one believes that Foley really doesn’t WANT a Wisconsin moment so no endorsement there.

Any signs at the SEEC about how the suits and ties “flex their muscles?”

posted by: Ct Hostage | June 20, 2014  2:42pm


>>>How cute:  Look how much the “Unions” spend on candidates to achieve their agenda.  Any idea how much business, bankers, hedge fund managers and assorted “clubs ” for growth spend to enact their agenda?  Lots more thanks very much.

Actually, that’s not true.


3 of the top 5 donors since 1989? - Unions

6 of the top 10 donors since 1989? - Unions

11 of the top 20 donors? - Unions.

And 16 of the top 16 either split their donations between parties or, as is the case with 11 of the top 16, lean strongly or solidly Democrat.

Even more interesting:

2 of the top 3 donors since 1989? - Public Employee Unions

And even more interesting, the SEIU only comes in #10.

And there are only 3 banks in the top 20, who split their donations more or less equally between parties.

But yeah, it’s those evil bankers and corporations who are buying elections with their eeeeeeeevil “dark money.”

posted by: DrHunterSThompson | June 20, 2014  4:25pm

I love reading your column. My kind of writing! Enjoy a quality fatty, sit down and write the obvious!

Yehaw! Journalism!


posted by: shinningstars122 | June 20, 2014  8:55pm


Mrs. Bates I think we all appreciate the links, although one is actually to your own blog.

I do hope you continue to demonstrate such equal passion,disdain, and scrutiny for all other gubernatorial candiates as we move through the summer?

Although I do believe you are off on the wrong foot.

I mean seriously you think $40,000 is a ” problem”? When in CT we recently had a GOP candidate, who will remain nameless as I am trying to be objective, for Senate who spent $97 million dollars on two failed campaigns?

See link here and it is not the New Your Times either.

Both Citizen’s United and most recently the SCOTUS McCutcheon ruling have stacked the deck against the electorate… but hey that gets hardly a mention in this piece, or any of your pieces, as you reduce you post to typical partisan rhetoric.

Reality check! Who just had a secret meeting with a couple hundred billionaire, and also some of your favorite teaparty “superstars” to raise $500 million to win back the Senate in the fall, and I am sure influence many state races as well?

It was not Steven Spielberg or Bill Gates.

Click here for the surprise.

Suzzane how about some dirt digging on ALEC and how they spend and raise alot more than $40,000?

As for you @CThostage when did earning a middle class income become a crime in our country?

This link is for you buddy.

I think you should change your avatar to @CTStockholmsyndrome

posted by: justsayin | June 21, 2014  5:56am

The unions are sheep. Blind democratic support, nothing new here.

posted by: Commuter | June 21, 2014  12:17pm

When wondering why Republicans and conservatism are on political life support in this state, look no further for a clue than what passes for criticism and policy proposals from Suzanne Bates, The Yankee Institute, Tom Foley’s Connecticut Policy Institute, Zack Janowski, Tom Foley, Heath Fahle, etceteras.

Quite literally, the only thing propping-up the intellectually bankrupt institutions of “the right” in this state is the spending - by overly-ambitious and ideologically-driven, wealthy individuals - who are intent on self-aggrandizement and on compelling compliance with their utterly discredited world views, respectively.

In the case of Mr. Foley, of course, add to the aggrandizement the fact that he sees state government as a terrific opportunity for plunder, which is the only thing he’s actually demonstrated he knows how to do successfully.

posted by: Bethy | June 22, 2014  3:01pm


Well Ms. Suzanne Bates, it appears that you have your article a little twisted here. First off, Malloy doesn’t have to “sweat” for a “piece of the pie” from “state” employees and “unions”. Yes, many of our union brothers and sisters were a bit disappointed with the concessions, but once we received a clear understanding of the concessions (after our union leaders” explained the concession deal in more detail), many of us became more comfortable. We received so many horror stories about the concessions which was the real cause of our outrage. But we are fine now, and we do support Governor Malloy and Lt. Wyman.  Second, teachers were given misleading information on a day-to-day basis as well. Once the media got a “woof” that teachers became outraged about the Education Reform, they (the media) began to ride on the matter which cause huge disturbances among teachers. Because of those horrible miscommunications fed to teachers, it prompt the governor to hold a serious of town-hall meetings to further explain his true goal. And it was NOT to target teachers on a personal note! As tax-paying citizens (parents), “WE” do respect teachers as they are the “pillars” to our communities and responsible for our children’s education.  I personally would do anything to back-up and support teachers because their jobs are not easy dealing with so many diverse communities and their issues.  AGAIN, “WE” respect teachers! Lastly, I respect Mr. Pelto as an advocating teacher, but his current position is a bit “off the chain”. The Malloy Administration is NOT on a rampage and out for teachers worse interest, rather the opposite. I really feel that he should knock off the silly behavior, get a grip and understand that we are all on the same page at the end of the day! During these times, it’s NOT the time for “democrats” to be fighting among each other, but work together! UNITED WE STAND, DIVIDED WE FALL!  Have a blessed Sunday….

posted by: Bethy | June 22, 2014  3:12pm


Lastly, Lady you will “NOT” get our “union brothers and sisters” divided among each other. WE support our local officials as a team. We stand together! BUT NICE TRY! and NO, we will NOT endorse “FOLEY” our union has spoken. Foley spoke before we did…He wants a “Wisconsin Moment”... Malloy/Wyman for 2014….

posted by: state_employee | June 23, 2014  7:42am

@Bethy, the state employees DO NOT support malloy or wymann.  obvioulsy a troll for malloy.

posted by: Bethy | June 23, 2014  9:43am


We will continue to support Malloy/Wyman because they deserve another 4 years!

posted by: NoNonsense2014 | June 23, 2014  10:09am

People need to understand something: saying that any “union” supports any candidate is misleading. What it means is that union leadership has decided to endorse/support some candidate or other. And leadership’s decision is very often at odds with the preferences of the majority of union members. Union “endorsement” may mean money, but it doesn’t necessarily mean votes come Election Day.

posted by: GuilfordResident | June 23, 2014  11:56am

Can I succeed and create my own enclave? No taxes, support of all civil liberties in the Bill of Rights.

posted by: Bethy | June 23, 2014  6:43pm


Like I said, there are a select few state employees that do not support Malloy, but 90% of the Unions do support Malloy. OUR Union Leaders endorsed Malloy and 95% of our Union brothers and sisters embrace the endorsement…and we pray for 4 more years as they both deserve it…so fall back!

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