Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s calculated decision to make a public show of challenging unionized teachers two years ago still dogs the first-term Democratic governor as he prepares for a 2014 re-election he cannot win without support from organized labor.
Malloy, who walked a picket line on the summer day he won the Democratic primary in 2010 and forcefully defended workers during a recent lockout at Lawrence + Memorial Hospital, gets stellar reviews for many policies from key union leaders.
They credit him with protecting state jobs during one of the worst economic downturns and say that his willingness to raise taxes preserved aid to cities and towns, saving thousands of jobs held by teachers and other municipal employees.
But the same leaders say that Malloy still has significant work remaining to salve wounds opened by his sharp rhetoric during concession talks in his first year and, even more so, as he framed his call for teacher tenure reform in his second year as an act of political courage.
“I’m a Democrat. I’ve been told that I can’t, or shouldn’t, touch teacher tenure. It’s been said by some that I won’t take on the issue because it will damage my relationship with teachers,” he told the General Assembly in February 2012. Then he made a succinct, sharp case for reform: “In today’s system, basically the only thing you have to do is show up for four years. Do that, and tenure is yours.”
Angry teachers can quote him from memory.
“I wished the governor hadn’t said it. It couldn’t have been more wrong,” said Lori J. Pelletier, the leader of the Connecticut AFL-CIO. “Ultimately, he has to decide how he goes forward.”
Click here to read the full story in the Connecticut Mirror.
For a taste of how angry Malloy made teachers, click here to read about a crowded 2012 New Haven appearance where the governor was roundly booed.