AFL-CIO Bans AFT Boss Weingarten’s ‘Dear Friend’ and Gov Candidate from Speaking at Convention


There’s labor strife brewing in New Haven.

But it’s not your typical employees-versus-management strife. No, it’s a conflict between union officials and their members over who to endorse for the upcoming Connecticut gubernatorial race, and it’s starting to get kind of ugly.

From the New Haven Independent:

“The head of a national teachers union praised a ‘dear friend’ and third-party candidate who was barred from addressing a labor convention – then made a case for why delegates should instead support a governor who has angered teachers.”

The duplicity came when Rhonda Weingarten, head of the American Federation of Teachers, addressed attendees this week at the Connecticut AFL-CIO union convention in New Haven, “where, according to script, delegates unanimously endorsed Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s re-election run,” according to the news site.

Weingarten encouraged attendees to endorse Malloy after union officials banned her “dear friend” Jonathan Pelto from addressing the convention, limiting the choices for union members to Malloy and Republican Tom Foley.

Pelto, an education blogger and former state legislator, is an outspoken critic of Malloy who entered the governor’s race under the “Education and Democracy Party.” He’s targeting rank-and-file union members who don’t like Malloy’s endorsement of Common Core, support for charter schools, and other reforms, the Independent reports.

“Pelto has played Lord Voldemort in the script of the convention the last two days: Convention organizers refused to let him speak and in some cases shuttered to say his name, portraying him as the evil third-party spoiler who could snatch the margin of victory away from Malloy in a tight rematch with Republican Tom Foley,” according to Tuesday’s Independent.

“When she heard a reporter utter the would-be spoiler’s name, AFT CT President Melodie Peters declined a press interview and walked away,” according to the Independent. “’Pelto?’ she said. ‘I’m not talking about Pelto.’”

AFL-CIO of CT boss Lori Pelletier was also obviously sour about Pelto’s participation in the governor’s race.

“Third parties don’t win,” she said. “They spoil.”

Much of the rest of the convention was dedicated to convincing union members that Malloy – who once said that to obtain teaching tenure in Connecticut “basically the only thing you have to do is show up for four years” – is the best leader than can reasonably hope to elect.

Weingarten told delegates that Malloy was “very regretful” for the “just show up” comment, and that while she “loves” and respects Pelto, members should vote for Malloy.

“If Malloy loses reelection, she said from the podium, Foley will ‘Wisconsinize Connecticut’ – dismantle the rights of organized labor,” the Independent reports.

Ironically, Malloy didn’t bother to show up to the union convention, so delegates used the time to express their displeasure with his education commissioner Stefan Pryor, a Yale Law School graduate and co-founder of Achievement First charter school. Union members hate that he has no teaching experience.

“The resolution, authored by the AFT and adopted by the convention, didn’t name Pryor,” according to the news site. “But it called for education commissioners to be certified to teach, lead a school, and lead a school system. That means they should have a 093 certification – the same certification superintendents need. Usually that means having had 80 months of teaching experience, or else a waiver.”

The whole situation convinced many commentators on the Independent article join the “growndswell of the rank-and-file” supporting Pelto, and to lash out at controlling union officials.

“Union leaders are so myopic and self-absorbed. They don’t believe in choice and treat their members (like they) are sheep to be herded rather than encouraged to vote, to educate themselves on the issues and make a choice,” poster Noteworthy wrote. “Are union bigs even interested in education? Or just themselves and political power?”

The answer seems obvious.


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