Upset with Democrats who voted in favor of a state budget that calls for laying off thousands of state employees, labor leaders are ramping up their protest actions.
Initially, union leaders had asked the heads of Connecticut’s labor unions to hold off on purchasing tickets to the Connecticut Democratic Party’s annual fundraising dinner on June 2.
But now Connecticut AFL-CIO and Council 4 union members and allies with D.U.E Justice — A Coalition for Democracy, Unity, and Equality — are being asked to attend a rally at 5 p.m. that afternoon, right before the dinner begins outside the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford.
The rally, according to Sal Luciano, executive director of Council 4 AFSCME, is to “show legislators we won’t stand by and allow their state budget to wreck Connecticut’s quality of life.”
Luciano said Friday: “Legislators who supported the recently passed job-killing state budget need to know that the service cuts and layoffs it will cause hurt all working families. And they need to know it’s time to do what’s right by restoring taxes on the rich.”
Luciano conceded that the “budget pretty much is a done deal for this year. But there is going to be a big problem next year with the budget also. What we are attempting to do is raise awareness — going forward.”
Luciano said the budget is “bad, on so many levels. It decimates health positions at a time when we have a huge problem with heroin addiction in this state. It also cuts funding to municipalities, who will simply pass on tax increases at a local level.”
“This isn’t just about union jobs,” added Luciano. “It’s about the future of Connecticut.”
At the rally, those participating will be given tee-shirts and signs for, Luciano said, “You to help deliver the message that austerity only benefits the richest 1% and that we need real prosperity for the rest of us.”
Tickets are going for at least $185 per plate. The dinner is the party’s largest fundraising event of the year and usually raises more than $200,000.
Last week, Connecticut AFL-CIO President Lori Pelletier told the heads of Connecticut’s labor unions to hold off on purchasing tickets to the dinner.
“We’re going to support candidates who support working families,” Pelletier said. “We’re asking if they have not contributed to wait and invest in our own labor movement.”
Labor will be holding its own fundraising dinner, details for which will be announced at the June 9-10 AFL-CIO convention.
Pelletier said the unions have an impressive door-knocking and phone banking organization that they are willing to put to use on candidates who support building up the middle-class.
A spokesperson for the Connecticut Democratic Party said Friday he considers the actions being taken by “some of the union members” unfortunate.
Leigh Appleby, spokesperson for the Democratic Party, added: “Look, we get it. We certainly understand that many union leaders are upset with the budget and the layoffs.”
“However,” Appleby continued, “on the the majority of issues — from increasing minimum wage to collective bargaining — the Democratic Party has been the party that has stood with labor.”
“What this dinner is all about at the end of the day,” said Appleby, “is to raise the necessary funds so that we can build a grassroots organization to bring the voters to the poll on the Election Day. For those who choose not to attend the dinner, we will miss their presence.”