The Massachusetts branch of the American Federation of Teachers Massachusetts today endorsed Congressman Edward J. Markey in the special election for the U.S. Senate, as the Democratic candidates continue to battle for labor backing.
The AFT, a 25,000-member union comprised of public school and higher education employees, issued its endorsement for Markey about one month after the state’s largest teacher’s union, the 110,000-member Massachusetts Teachers Association offered its own endorsement of Markey.
“Throughout his career Ed Markey has been an advocate for students and has pushed for reforms that strengthen our public education system and reward effective teaching methods,” said Thomas Gosnell, AFT Massachusetts president said in a statement. “We know Ed will continue working hard in the Senate on behalf of students, educators, and families.”
His Democratic opponent, Stephen F. Lynch has picked up endorsements from the nurses, firefighters, and building trades unions, among others.
Although they represent a shrinking portion of Massachusetts households, labor unions are a major player in the state’s Democratic politics and their fundraising, volunteer and voter mobilization efforts are credited with helping propel Elizabeth Warren to victory in the Senate race over Republican incumbent Scott Brown last November.
Lynch hopes his ties to organized labor – which include a turn as president of his local steelworkers union—will help him defeat Markey, who earned early backing from a number of prominent Democrats.
But while he’s racked up 77 total union endorsements, Lynch has struggled to earn support from labor’s largest players.
“I am extremely proud to have the support of more than 75 labor organizations across the state,” Lynch said in a statement today. “At a time when the pay disparity between CEOs and workers is exploding, its is incredibly important for labor to continue to set the bar high for all workers.”
In addition to the teachers unions, Markey has won the endorsement of the 35,000-member American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union and the 85,000-member Service Employees International Union.
“I am so proud to have the support of the American Federation of Teachers, whose members are some of the most dedicated individuals I know,” Markey said in the statement announcing the AFT endorsement today. “I’ve spent decades fighting to provide the best education possible for our children, and I’ll continue the fight in the Senate for more teachers, better schools and smaller class sizes.”
The AFL-CIO, which some expected to support Lynch, could not reach a two-thirds consensus needed for an endorsement and announced it would not formally back either candidate.