As it happens, my home state of Connecticut is also home to a campaign to improve ordinary people's lives by highlighting a local legislative battle to mandate paid sick days for employers of larger companies. This is legislation that's come close to passing before (it's passed each chamber, but not in the same year), and this year, there's a concerted push to get it done.As it happens, this November, Connecticut was something of a bright spot for Democrats and progressives compared to the non-California rest of the country. Despite strong challenges, the Senate (Richard Blumenthal) and House (all five House incumbents, including Chris Murphy, Joe Courtney, John Larsen, Rosa DeLauro and Jim Himes) stayed blue, and the state elected a Democratic Governor (former Stamford Mayor Dannel Malloy) for the first time in two decades.
When Gov. Malloy addressed the business community last week, he brought up the paid sick days issue:
In his first speech to a business audience as governor, Democrat Dannel P. Malloy told nearly 600 executives Friday that he supports mandatory paid sick leave for employees — a key issue that business lobbyists have been fighting for years.Did Working Families play a role? As Mark Pazniokas, one of the state's veteran political reporters, noted in October
With pollsters predicting tight gubernatorial and congressional elections, a cross-endorsement by the Working Families Party could be pivotal for the first time in a high-profile Connecticut race....I thought it would be interesting to revisit those two issues: paid sick days and the role of third party "fusion tickets" in CT. I contacted Jon Green again for some of his perspective.
[Rep. John] Larson said later he was not bothered that part of Working Families’ appeal is to voters who are turned off by the major parties.
The Working Families Party, which has brought New York’s tradition of fusion politics to Connecticut, has cross-endorsed the top of the Democratic ticket, starting with the nominee for governor, Dan Malloy.
Larson said he views the Working Families as one of many branches of the Democratic coalition that ranges from organized labor to the conservative Blue Dog Democrats.
Daily Kos: What role did the Working Families Party play in Connecticut elections in 2010?
Jon Green: While a corporate funded tea party tide washed over most of the country last November, Connecticut looked quite a bit different: we elected Dan Malloy, the first Democratic Governor in 20 years. We elected Richard Blumenthal to the Senate, beating Linda McMahon's $50 million attack machine. And Democrats held onto all five seats in Congress. The difference? Big turnout in the cities, major mobilizations by union members and the unique roll of the Working Families Party.
Working Families is an independent, grassroots political party that evaluates all the candidates running for office and supports progressive Democrats who are willing to fight hard for our values, from creating decent living wage jobs to expanding healthcare to progressive taxation. Connecticut election law allows minor parties to cross-endorse major party candidates. Candidates like Gov. Malloy who earned the Working Families endorsement get a second line on the ballot and also our formidable door to door canvass. Progressive voters can cast their vote on the Working Families ballot line to signal their support for our progressive values. This year, our support made a difference.
Dan Malloy was elected Governor by a narrow 6404 vote margin out of over 1.1 million votes -- with over 26,000 coming in on the Working Families ballot line. We're also proud to have helped to re-elect Rep. Jim Himes and Rep. Chris Murphy -- two Democrats tight races who were targeted by massive corporate expenditures. And we won nine of our ten targeted state legislative races.
I think the lesson to learn is that you can win by sticking to your guns and articulating progressive values.
Daily Kos: What issues is Working Families advocating in Connecticut this year?
Jon Green: In other state's progressives are on the defensive, preparing for the worst: Arizona-style immigration laws, Gov. Chris Christie-style slash-and-burn budget cuts and tax cuts for the rich and more. In Connecticut, progressives have the opportunity to go on the offensive.
One notable policy that Working Families has been backing is legislation to allow working people to earn paid sick days. Notably, Governor Malloy campaigned in support for paid sick days legislation and made it a key issue in both the Democratic primary and the General election. And just last week, he addressed the state business lobby and reaffirmed his support for paid sick days. It's refreshing to have elected leaders who remember the issues they ran on after Election Day.
Over 500,000 working people in Connecticut lack paid sick days -- among them many of the people who prepare and serve our food, drive our children to school and care for the sick and elderly. For them, losing pay is as easy as catching the flu, and a child's doctor's appointment can cost you your job. Especially in this economy, no one should have to choose between their income and their health. But when those workers come to work sick, they risk spreading disease to all of us.
The issue has already generated real enthusiasm -- we just launched a petition for paid sick with a goal of 1000 signatures, and in a few days, we blew through the goal. Soon, we'll be launching our campaign -- with a real shot to make Connecticut the first state to establish a basic workplace standard for paid sick days.
Daily Kos: Thank you for your time.
I'll add what I said last year. There are many ways to advocate for public health, and paid sick days is one of them.