State Representative and vice-chair of the Labor and Public Employees Committee Joshua Hall, D-Hartford, is running for president of the Hartford Federation of Teachers, AFT, following the retirement of Andrea DiBella Johnson.
Hall is facing off against Carol Gale, a teacher in Hartford’s Global Communications Academy magnet school and sister of Hartford City Council member, John Gale.
The Hartford representative, who won his seat in a special election on a Working Families Party ticket in 2017 and then again in 2018 as a Democrat, has been employed as First Vice President of the Hartford teachers union since 2008. The Labor and Public Employees Committee oversees, among other things, issues related to unions and collective bargaining agreements.
The Hartford Federation of Teachers is an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers and the AFL-CIO, two of the most politically active public-sector unions in Connecticut government.
Hall was a teacher at Hartford’s Weaver High School. However, since 2008 he worked full-time for the union while retaining his position as a teacher, including seniority, salary and benefits.
According to past union contracts, the union reimbursed the city for most or all of Hall’s salary while he worked full time for HFT under the contract’s detached leave service provision.
Hall is campaigning on the “Unity” slate while Gale is campaigning on “Hartford Teachers Together” slate.
Whoever takes the helm of HFT — under whichever campaign slogan calling for unity and togetherness — will take the reins of a union fighting a court battle against its own employees.
As reported by Yankee Institute, HFT is waging a long court battle against its administrative employees’ union over HFT’s attempts to cut the employees’ retirement benefits.
Although HFT has consistently lost every step of the process – from a Connecticut Board of Labor Relations arbitration decision to Connecticut’s Superior Court – the HFT has continued to fight its office workers, who are members of the Office and Professional Employees International Union.
HFT has now taken the matter to the appellate court. Both the HFT and OPEIU are affiliates of the AFL-CIO.
Hall is co-chair of the House Progressive Caucus and is one of six current or former union officials who sit on the Labor and Public Employees Committee. Hall also serves on the Transportation Committee and the Planning and Development Committee.
The election for union president of the HFT will be conducted by mail-in vote to the American Arbitration Association in New York.
The votes must be mailed by April 8, however it is unknown how long the vote count will take as only essential employees are working at this time in response to the COVID-19 virus.