As the final battle between aldermanic candidates commences in today’s citywide Democratic primary, the clout of Yale unions may help clinch a winner.
Yale union Local 34, which represents clerical and technical workers, has officially endorsed three aldermanic hopefuls: Ward 28 candidate Claudette Robinson-Thorpe, Ward 24 candidate Liz McCormack and Ward 10 candidate Allan Brison. While the unions’ donations to campaigns may not be significant, the unions’ influence is: The votes of Yale employees represent a large block of the constituency.
Local 34 President Laura Smith said the executive board members of the union decided to endorse Robinson-Thorpe, McCormack and Brison because of their track records of sticking up for the needs of the members of the union. The basic “nuts and bolts issues” that matter most to the unions, Smith said, include advocating healthy and safe working conditions and organizing rights for workers, such as a living wage.
“The most important point is that we’re looking for candidates who support issues of working families and organizing rights,” Smith said. “Those folks have been extraordinarily loyal and supportive.”
In the case of Ward 28, the union selected Robinson-Thorpe instead of incumbent Alderman Mordechai Sandman because Sandman did not support a piece of legislation brought forth in the Board of Aldermen two years ago that denounced New England Linen Supply for its alleged poor working conditions, Smith said.
“From our perspective, we know he was unwilling on this one issue; therefore, we think that having a different candidate who has told us that she’s interested in supporting these kinds of issues makes more sense,” Smith said.
But Sandman said the notion that he is anti-union or anti–workers’ rights is inaccurate and unfair. He explained that the legislation criticizing New England Linen Supply was introduced to the Board of Aldermen only a few hours before the board was set to vote on it. Sandman said he could not in good conscience sign onto a piece of legislation that reprimanded a business in New Haven without having the opportunity to communicate with the company first.
Moreover, Sandman said, neither Local 34 nor Local 35 has ever reached out to him, to discuss union issues or any other topic, “other than maybe a Christmas party,” he said.
Local 34 has not officially endorsed a candidate for the Ward 22 aldermanic election, but according to the Connecticut State Elections Endorsement Commission, UNITE HERE Tip State and Local Fund—CT, the umbrella political action committee for the Yale unions, has donated $200 to the campaign of candidate Lisa Hopkins.