"I don't think any of us expected to win quite that big," said Laurie Kennington, president of Local 34.
A resident of New Haven for 16 years, she
said the coalition that is now driving local politics is "unique in that it's a Board of Aldermen
that comes from a lot of doorknocking, a lot of voter turnout, a lot of participation-rather than the old system of people getting tapped here and there.
"A lot of union members are on the Board of Aldermen
and a lot of community members are on the Board of Aldermen
," said Kennington
"A lot of people active in their churches.
"The labor movement at its best has been a movement for social justice that raises standards for all working people, not just in the narrow interests of its membership," said Kennington
"In this country right now, unions are trying to figure out how to get back to that style of organizing, particularly in this economic moment when working people need all of the fighters they can get."
Nonetheless, when two members of Local 34
first told the union that they were running for alderman, the 40-member executive board had what Kennington described as a "lively discussion" over whether to get involved.
"I think everyone recognized that we should play some role in the city," she
said, but it had been common practice for labor unions to seek community support when they went on strike "and then disappear when our contract got ratified again."
This time around, the union decided "we can't be an island of prosperity when everyone around us is struggling," said Kennington