Teachers union to back Capuano

By Brian C. Mooney
Globe Staff / October 23, 2009

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The Massachusetts Teachers Association, largest labor union in the state, announced yesterday that it will back US Representative Michael E. Capuano in the four-way Democratic primary to fill the Senate seat of Edward M. Kennedy, giving Capuano one of the most significant union endorsements in the race.

MTA president Anne Wass cited Capuano’s “strong pro-education track record along with a deep understanding of the challenges facing urban public schools’’ as key factors in the decision to recommend him in the Dec. 8 primary to its 107,000 members. The decision was made by a standing committee elected by union members.

Capuano, a six-term congressman and former mayor of Somerville, has a voting record that earned a 96 percent rating by the National Education Association, of which the MTA is the state affiliate, and he voted for more than $100 billion in education and state aid under the two-year economic recovery bill, the MTA said in its announcement.

The MTA will communicate its recommendation directly to its membership. The political action committee of the union’s umbrella organization, the National Education Association, also voted to back Capuano. The NEA PAC may expend funds on behalf of candidates.

The announcement continues the union endorsement battle between Capuano and Attorney General Martha Coakley, one of the others in the race. Last week, Coakley picked up the backing of the 60,000-member state council of the Service Employees International Union.

Capuano has the support of more statewide and local unions in terms of total membership they represent. The other Democrats, Boston Celtics co-owner Stephen Pagliuca and Alan Khazei, a cofounder of City Year, have not been a factor in the contest for labor endorsements.