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Pelto Calls AFL-CIO Convention ‘Unfair and Undemocratic’

by | Jun 16, 2014 3:05pm () Comments | Commenting has expired | Share
Posted to: Election 2014, Labor, New Haven

Hugh McQuaid photo Connecticut AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer Lori Pelletier defended the union’s decision to hear from only major party candidates Monday as third-party gubernatorial candidate Jonathan Pelto bemoaned being shut out of the group’s convention.

Labor delegates heard a campaign pitch Monday from Republican Tom Foley and were scheduled to hear from Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy later that afternoon. The union is expected to endorse a candidate Tuesday.

Pelto, a former Democratic lawmaker and critic of Malloy, is collecting petitions to appear on the ballot in November under the newly-created Education and Democracy Party. He issued a press release Monday touting his labor credentials and expressing disappointment that union leaders did not respond to his requests to address the group.

“While I appreciate that reasonable people can disagree when it comes to politics and a number of union leaders have already committed to Malloy, the AFL-CIO leadership’s decision to refuse to allow me to speak to the delegates responsible for endorsing a candidate for governor is insulting and flies in the face of the democratic principles that are purported to be among the core values of unions,” he said.

Pelletier told reporters she was comfortable inviting only major party candidates.

“The reality is I don’t like that we have a two party system. I wish it was different. But the playing field is what it is. The fact is, it’s going to be a major party that wins. Until that changes, we have some change in that electorate, then I am perfectly comfortable with how we decided to invite the candidates to come to this convention,” she said.

Pelletier said she spoke with Pelto at length before he announced his candidacy. Although he asked about third party candidates, she said the former lawmaker never mentioned he was going to run as one.

Pelletier said she told Pelto that a third-party candidate would be a spoiler in this year’s election.

“I said ‘Third parties don’t work. You’re going to be a spoiler. Ross Perot was a spoiler for Herbert Walker Bush. Ralph Nader was a spoiler for Al Gore. You’re going to be a spoiler. My members don’t need a spoiler. My members need someone in the governor’s office that respects collective bargaining,’” she said.

When Pelto began exploring a third party run, he said he would not become an official candidate unless he determined he could be a viable candidate and not just spoil the race for Malloy, who won a narrow election in 2010.

However, Pelto made an official announcement last week, cutting the exploratory period short so he could be considered for an endorsement by the state’s labor unions and advocacy groups. So far, the Connecticut chapters of the American Federation of Teacher and the United Auto Workers have endorsed Malloy.

He said AFL-CIO’s decision not let him speak was “unfair and undemocratic.”

“I am an announced and active candidate for governor. I am a life-long supporter of unions and the rights of workers to collectively bargain. I retired from the Connecticut General Assembly with one of the highest AFL-CIO COPE ratings of any legislator and a long record of fighting for the rights of workers,” he said. “Both my parents were members of Connecticut unions and I, myself, was a member of OPEIU during former Congressman Sam Gejdenson’s first campaign . . . The decision to prevent me from addressing the union delegates is simply unfair and undemocratic.”

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(21) Archived Comments

posted by: Noteworthy | June 16, 2014  3:41pm

Lori Pelletier’s comments are flat if not outright dishonest. She should have said “There’s a democrat named Dan or Dannel, whatever - and we only support democrats. Others are wasting the union’s valuable time. There could be five major parties, and we would only endorse the democrat. We don’t like democracy and would prefer only democrats hold office who will rubberstamp our excessive contracts so our members can afford to pay our excessive dues that pay for six figure salaries for union leaders and all their many and even better perks.”

That would be honest.

posted by: oliviahuxtable | June 16, 2014  4:15pm

We state workers read and understand, Jonathan. You were purposefully excluded from this vote. But we feel betrayed by our union leadership and the last thing we will do is be betrayed again. You fight on! In the internet age information is shared easily and quickly. We don’t rely on union endorsements.

posted by: Linda12 | June 16, 2014  4:29pm

It doesn’t matter who AFT, AFL-CIO or CEA endorse. You don’t represent your dues paying members and we don’t vote based on your endorsement. We have been used and abused. Time to “Eric Cantor” Dannel.  Pelto/Murphy 2014

posted by: Bluecoat | June 16, 2014  5:02pm

How much public money gets laundered from the taxpayer to Unions and then into the DNC or the State of CT Dem’s?
What are the salaries and benefits packages of the AFL-CIO leadership and it’s affiliates?

posted by: RJEastHartford | June 16, 2014  5:23pm

Union members do not need a spoiler. Mr. Pelto is well versed in politics, especially Ct Democratic politics, that is why he said what he said. He would not be a spoiler. Apparently he changed his mind. It also appears, he is beginning to turn on Unions as a whole (but not the membership, right?). Mr. Foley can afford to be cautious with Mr. Pelto in the race.
A very unfortunate circumstance for union members. Folly to go after collective bargaining rights? The Republican will be the bigger liar come January, while Mr. Pelto will be Waiting for What? A position in the Foley administration.

posted by: Sarah Darer Littman | June 16, 2014  5:26pm

At times like this one wonders if union leadership is secretly in cohoots with those on the right who wish to destroy the unions - because they are doing such a great job of destroying themselves by practices guaranteed to alienate their own rank and file. (See also, Weingarten, Randi. )

posted by: Castles Burning | June 16, 2014  5:31pm

I endorse the following comments by Noteworthy, oliviahuxtable, and Linda12, believing that they speak for many.  And, of course, I just like them very much.

posted by: DrHunterSThompson | June 16, 2014  5:32pm

Pelletier said that? Wow. How outta touch can the union dinosaurs be?

Pelto is 100% right, whether you like him or not.


posted by: Parent and educator | June 16, 2014  5:40pm

Pelletier is not always so complacent; when (democratic) atty general Jepsen blocked passage of a bill the AFL-CIO wanted passed, look what happened:  “I think that the attorney general needs to have some serious conversations with folks,” Connecticut AFL-CIO boss Lori J. Pelletier told the CT Mirror. “In order for him to do that, he’s got to reach out.”
I guess reaching out only works when it’s something Pelletier thinks is important…  “Listening to folks”—like those who might want Pelto and Murphy to present their platform—ain’t gonna happen when Pelletier’s the boss.  Here’s the story (and I am not arguing the merits of the “captive audierce bill,” merely the principle of “listening to folks”).

posted by: PWS2003 | June 16, 2014  5:46pm

Truth be told most union members feel back stabbed by their union leadership and that is one of the reasons that union membership has so drastically decline over the last few decades. Jon will do just fine with union members and especially retire teachers, active teachers, and state employees and these leaders know it, and that scares them crazy. They have to put up a good front though otherwise their seat at the table vanishes. LOL

posted by: state_employee | June 16, 2014  6:56pm

Pelletier told reporters she was comfortable inviting only major party candidates.
Translation;  The governor told me what to say and who to invite.  I would be in big trouble if I invited Jonathan Pelto.  I was also told to say Pelto will be a spoiler.  I’m just doing what I’m told to.”

posted by: Commuter | June 16, 2014  8:24pm

What Pelto means is “damn, it turns out I’ve been holed-up in the woods talking to myself and a small circle of loonies to the point of distraction for too long, and I’m forced to admit that, in addition to being totally wrong, I am totally screwed.”

That’s what Jon is actually saying.

posted by: art vandelay | June 17, 2014  4:06am

art vandelay

@PWS2003,  The reason why union membership is down is because they have outlived their usefulness in American society. It’s not because of Union leadership.  Unions have sucked the life out of the auto industry & maritime industry with such antiquated rules such as the Jones Act & closed shop.  The only reason why they exist in the public service sector is because they have stacked the deck with politicians who support them for votes. The can also bleed the taxpayer through the Democrat Party until someday the taxpayers say they had enough. In Wisconsin this has already happened.  Someday it will in Connecticut. Collective Bargaining & SEPAC need to go.

posted by: BMS | June 17, 2014  8:08am

The union should endorse the candidate that best supports their interest. Therefore, all candidates should be allowed to speak, so that the delegates can decide who best supports their interest. To deny Pelto the opportunity to speak denies the delegates the opportunity to think. Union leadership is important. However, the attitude that I know what is best for the delegates, rather then letting the delegate decide for themselves is an arrogant exercise of power.

posted by: oliviahuxtable | June 17, 2014  10:13am

Art..the decline of union membership has been the real reason for the income inequality we have seen for the last 3 decades, as evidenced by the lowering of wages for middle class workers AND the dismemberment of benefits…I.e. Pensions and health benefits. A nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office report in 2011 showed that the average household income for the top 1% wage earners more than tripled, while middle class workers’ income grew by less than 40% between 1979-2007. And I am under no illusion that one political party over another caused this….the politicians’ main concern is their next reelection and they will be swayed by whoever contributes the most and Mr. Vandelay, that ain’t you and it ain’t me. I have been reading you for some time and hear the anger in your voice about what has happened to the average Joe and trust me, I have that anger, too. Our difference is I know who bears responsibility and it isn’t the union workers.

posted by: OutOfOutrage | June 17, 2014  1:49pm


Sarah Darer Littman, It seems clear to me that the Right is also in cahoots with the US border patrol, Obama’s foreign policy team, the IRS, the NSA, the state department and the molecular structure of the Norwalk bridge.  In all seriousness, the union leadership has no more to fear from its membership than the Dems in the GA have to fear the GOP. The political symbiosis is as efficient as it is damaging.

posted by: Sarah Darer Littman | June 17, 2014  2:08pm

MattW - Um…what? A) I don’t REALLY think the union leaders are in cahoots with the right wing.  It was sarcasm and b) not sure what the rest of your comment was actually trying to say. Perhaps you could attempt to express yourself more clearly?

posted by: GBear423 | June 17, 2014  2:16pm


Matt, it’s a Vast Right Wing Conspiracy (VRWC).  heard it here first!

Noteworthy hit the nail on the head, They set up Foley for an epic fail, of course he delivered by being completely unprepared.. “I say something funny?”  no, really??  /facepalm. 

And they tee’d up ol Dannel to knock it out of the park. rah rah Dannel! There is no other candidate for their special interest.

posted by: OutOfOutrage | June 17, 2014  2:29pm


Try this: I don’t believe the union is in cahoots with the Right either but if we’re talking about groups (or structures) that appear to be impaling themselves, I’ve listed many more that fit that description and (in carrying your joke to its logical conclusion) must also be in cahoots with the Right. Please let me know if its still unclear.

posted by: DanofiveO | June 17, 2014  2:35pm

Pelletier’s scolding of Jonathan Pelto and her disenfranchisement of both his right to free speech and her unions right to hear from a candidate for governor is just plain censorship of the membership by a union Fat cat. Why do it Lori?  Perhaps it might have given your membership a boost to let Malloy squirm a bit? There are many union members that Pelto resonates with.  There many members who want an alternative and will not vote for Malloy.  November is coming and the union membership that see their friends and neighbors hurting want to be part of the solution not the big union problem we have.
Lori Pelliteir is a lighting rod for all that is wrong with Connecticut and her snuggling up with Malloy and her rebuke of Pelto as not being. a viable candidate certainly makes him more attractive to all of us watching Lori gorge herself with our tax money. Let’s not forget all the disenfranchised union teachers and sportsman that Malloy screwed. There are droves and droves of democrats and independents who will vote for Pelto before a republican and never ever for a democrat again.  Don’t worry Lori you and. Malloy will make a good greeters at wallmart after your union is disbanded and your office turned into a park..  It’s time for a change. Wisconsin Moment here we come!

posted by: JusticePartyCT | June 17, 2014  8:31pm

If you do not like the two-party system and vote for the lesser evil, you will always have a system that works against you. That system is now geared towards the politicians and the few power brokers that have their ear. It no longer represents, ‘We the People’ and surely does not represent union members.  We hope that the union members and all readers that come across this article reject top-down control of our state and institutions and vote for independents and third-parties in 2014/16. We also hope that you will consider the Justice Party. Here is a great article on labor and union protection by our founder, former mayor of Salt Lake City (and former Democrat!), Rocky Anderson:
Connecticut Justice Party (http://www.justicepartyct.org)

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