Working Families Party Celebrates 2011, Looks To 2012

Working Families Party
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Working Families Party

 

It's been a good year for Connecticut's Working Families Party.  In Hartford, the party won all three of the city council's minority seats and sidelined Republicans.  And at the state capitol, it won a major victory with the passage of paid sick leave.
 
But as WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports, the party is now looking to the future.
 
The Working Families Party tries to match its name -- and advocate for issues that matter to the state's working families.  One of those issues was paid sick leave for service workers.  Last session, with Democratic support and over the objection of state Republicans, it won that battle.  Now...
 
"There have been people in the state legislature who've are coming to us now and are saying, well, that was cool, what do we do next? "
 
That's Jon Green, the party's executive director. He says he's got some big ideas, like a green jobs program and a public pension option. But will any of them soon see the floor of the legislature?
 
"Well, that is a good question..."
 
"Their success with paid sick days has actually disadvantaged them to a degree. "
 
Mark Pazniokas covers the capitol for the Connecticut Mirror.
 
"They've lost the issue that they organized around for years.  And so I think now they have to regroup and find the next hot issue."
 
When it comes to electing politicians, the Working Families Party has two strategies.  At the state level, it typically doesn't run its own candidates -- it cross-endorses others. At the local level, it has run its own, and, in Hartford, it will soon control all three minority seats on the city council.
 
Now, that may say as much about the lack of influence of the city's Republicans.  But Green says it sends a bigger message about community activism and politics.  And he also says this -- expect to see those locally-elected officials advocating for Working Families at the state capitol.
 
"You know, gee, we do have big fish to fry here and we've got to tackle these big issues, too."
 
Just one caution.  When you tackle them at the capitol, be sure to let people know you're a lobbyist.  Green learned that the hard way. He just got fined $10,000 by the state for lobbying without proper identification.
 
For WNPR, I'm Jeff Cohen.