Monday, June 16, 2014

Foley In The Lion’s Den


When Republican candidate for governor Tom Foley addressed the Connecticut AFL-CIO, he was perhaps more frostily received than he may have imagined.

Foley’s address to the crowd was summarized by one newspaper this way: “The Greenwich businessman devoted much of his speech in an attempt at convincing the delegates that, if elected, he will not propose legislation similar to the collective bargaining regulations passed by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

The anti-Scott Walker crowd wasn’t buying it. And when Mr. Foley sought to explain a phrase he had earlier used – “Looking for a Wisconsin moment in Connecticut… means I'm hoping we go from one-party rule to more balanced government, as Wisconsin did in 2010. It does not mean I will change the way collective bargaining works in our state." – titters arose.


“Did I say something funny,” Mr. Foley asked?

In a word – Yes.
 
It did not fare better with Mr. Foley’s opposite number, Jonathan Pelto, who is running for governor this year as an independent. Mr. Pelto said he was not permitted by organizers of the event to address the gathering. Just as some wayward Catholics consider themselves holier than the Pope, so it may be said of Mr. Pelto that he considers himself more of a union man than Governor Dannel Malloy. Mr. Malloy was warmly embraced as a sort of union steward in residence at the Governor’s mansion by AFL-CIO unionists on the same day Mr. Foley was amusingly attempting to put some distance between himself and Mr. Walker.
 
Mr. Malloy’s address was preceded by sweet and sour remarks made by AFSCME President Lee Saunders, whose vote for governor, judging from a report in CTNewsJunkie, is not in dispute:  “We haven’t always agreed with him… but the governor’s record of supporting working families is very clear. He consistently supports the right to organize. If you don’t want another Wisconsin, then don’t listen to his [Foley’s] rhetoric because he will tell you anything, then he’ll try to kill you if he gets elected.”


The red meat Mr. Malloy threw to the lions was gratefully gobbled up: "There's a problem in America and you can read about it, you can understand it, if you take the time to read or listen: It's that the middle class is getting pretty badly beaten up. The union movement, which in so many ways is responsible for the growth of the middle class in America, seems to have a target on its back in state after state after state… Let's be very clear. I stand with labor. I always have. I always will. It goes back to who I am and what I am."

Not only did Mr. Malloy identify with unions, he identified the middle class exclusively with unions, a rhetorical closed shop.  While most public sector unionists belong to the middle class, every middle class worker, much to the regret of the AFL-CIO, is not a member of a union. It is yet undecided at what point one’s assets shove one out of the middle class. Though he sometime sounds like a dockworker, Mr. Malloy, who recently sold his house for a million and a half, is far wealthier than, say, any non-unionized middle class worker in Connecticut who continues to be hit by the largest tax increase in state history, thanks to Mr. Malloy’s sense of “shared sacrifice.” Senator Dick Blumenthal, the fourth richest member of the U.S. Senate, will never be able to shake his Harvard education or speak in the accents of Mr. Saunders. Never-the-less, both he and U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro, also asset rich, are firmly in the union camp. But then union affection is not tied to personal assets. One is drawn into the union shop by one’s ideological nose.

Which is why Mr. Foley’s musings were so amusing to the AFL-CIO honchos.  Mr. Pelto’s rejection simply means that union leaders in Connecticut have already plighted their troth to Mr. Malloy.

It was Mob accountant Otto Biederman, known as Otto "Abbadabba" Berman (1891–1935), who was credited with coining the phrase "Nothing personal, it's just business."


Shabbily treated by AFL-CIO leaders, Mr. Pelto might well console himself in his hour of sorrow -- Nothing personal Jon, it's just politics. Mr. Foley's thumps, on the other hand, are less worrisome because they were expected.
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