john and nedChristine Stuart photo
The Service Employees International Union of Connecticut with an estimated 55,000 members endorsed U.S. Senate candidate Ned Lamont Monday. SEIU Director Paul Filson said Lamont represents change and “we need change not only here in Connecticut, but in Washington D.C.” He said incumbent U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman has spent the past 18 years in office not listening to union members who want their senator to fight for universal health care and stand up to President George W. Bush’s administration. But that’s not to say incumbent Lieberman, who will run as a third-party candidate after being defeated by Lamont in the primary, didn’t cause some lively debate amongst SEIU members, who waited to weigh in on the race only after the primary.

SEIU LiebermanLieberman last Monday as he walks into the meeting with SEIU members in Hartford. Jim Brewer photo
Kurt Westby, district chairman of SEIU local 32 BJ, said no matter what the party affiliation, members try to look at each candidate separately. The decision to support Lamont wasn’t easy, as many of the members had worked closely with Lieberman on a variety of issues from increasing the minimum wage to immigration reform, Westby said.  According to SEIU’s Action Center, Lieberman disagreed with it’s national office twice in the last four years. The first was his vote in favor of legislation that robs workers of wage and hour protections enacted by state legislatures and the second was the confirmation of U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts.  But locally there was an overwhelming need for SEIU members to support a candidate that would advocate for universal health care, against the war in Iraq, and for a U.S. Senate candidate who could help get other union-friendly candidates like DeStefano elected. “John DeStefano has what we need to keep good paying jobs in this state,” Lamont said in his acceptance speech from the north steps of the Capitol Monday.Lamont is also in a position to help other candidates like Diane Farrell, Joe Courtney and Chris Murphy, three Democrats looking to unseat Republican Congressmen Chris Shays, Rob Simmons and Nancy Johnson.“We’re standing up for a set of values,” DeStefano said. “Seeing our families do better, that’s worth standing up for.”