For Pelto, Union Endorsements (and Conversations) Prove Elusive

Jul 2, 2014

Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman and Gov. Dannel Malloy accept the endorsement of the state's largest union, the SEIU. They represent more than 65,000 workers in the state. Malloy accepted the endorsement at the SEIU's New England Headquarters in Hartford.
Credit Patrick Skahill / WNPR

Connecticut's largest union announced it will support Governor Dannel Malloy in this fall's upcoming election. The Service Employees International Union represents more than 65,000 workers in the state, but those potential voters didn’t get to hear from another candidate running against Malloy.

The SEIU represents all types of workers: janitors, child care providers, state employees, and health care workers to name a few. Paul Filson is director of their state council and he said the endorsement process works like this. A declared candidate asks for an endorsement and the union sends them a questionnaire. Then, it conducts interviews and votes on whether or not to endorse.

Filson said the only declared candidate for Governor who asked to be considered was Malloy, but Jonathan Pelto, a third party candidate running against the incumbent, disagreed, saying he requested to be heard by the union after he declared his candidacy, but was ignored. 

Jonathan Pelto is running as a third party candidate for the Education and Democracy Party.
Credit Chion Wolf / WNPR

Here's how Filson responded to that: "The most important thing for us is to win this election. To have an election where a worker friendly Governor is elected. And we do not want to be distracted by folks on the right or on the left who are not viable candidates."

Pelto said unions shouldn't decide who is a "viable candidate," and that he should have been offered a chance to speak. "I understand that the union leaders intended to give their endorsement to Malloy. That was never in my mind, the question. It wasn't to stop them from endorsing Malloy, it was to provide a dialogue about these issues," he said. "I think it's undemocratic. That's with a big 'D' and a small 'D.' It's against everything that we're supposed to stand for and if anything, unions should be the ones who are standing up for the right of people to provide information and have dialogue."

In June, the Connecticut AFL-CIO, a statewide labor federation, also denied Pelto the chance to speak before a meeting of their leadership. That union ultimately endorsed Malloy.