HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Organized labor is warming to its newly endorsed Democratic nominee for Congress in the 5th District.
John Olsen, president of the Connecticut AFL-CIO and a former chairman of the Connecticut Democrats, said on WFSB-TV's "Face the State" on Sunday that Democrat Elizabeth Esty helped the Machinists union in its fight to prevent layoffs at jet engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney.
"She has a track record in going out there and fighting in Cheshire," he said, without saying what specifically Esty did. "She was very helpful in making sure we kept jobs as long as we could."
The subsidiary of United Technologies Corp. shut jet engine repair plants in Cheshire, which Esty represented in the state House of Representatives, and East Hartford. Following a prolonged fight, including a federal court challenge in 2010, the union and company negotiated a retirement package for many workers and transfer rights to other Pratt & Whitney shops.
Organized labor strongly backed House Speaker John Donovan in the Aug. 14 Democratic primary that he lost to Esty. The AFL-CIO endorsed Esty on Wednesday.
Donovan was unable to get out from under a scandal that dogged his campaign. His former campaign manager and six others were arrested and charged with conspiracy, making false statements to FBI agents and causing false reports to be filed with the Federal Election Commission.
All have pleaded not guilty.
Donovan is a former union organizer and is well known for his support of issues such as universal health care, publicly funded political campaigns and increasing the minimum wage.
Olsen said that although organized labor has less of a connection to Esty, it expects to work well with her as she faces Republican opponent Andrew Roraback, a state senator.
"Our relationship is much shorter," he said. "I really believe that we can have a very good relationship with her."
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