Senator Edward J. Markey heads into a televised debate Sunday evening against his challenger, Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III, with a new endorsement from a teachers union.
The Massachusetts Teachers Association announced Saturday that it was backing Markey in the Democratic primary on Sept. 1. In June, the American Federation of Teachers Massachusetts also said it was supporting Markey.
In a statement, MTA President Merrie Najimy called Markey a “true champion of public education and working families.”
“Now more than ever, we must elect leaders who will stand with us,” she said. “Ed Markey has an incredible record of advocating for policies that help students, educators and our communities, and Massachusetts needs him in the U.S. Senate to keep up that fight.”
The association represents more than 110,000 teachers, faculty, professional staff, and education support professionals. The group has also backed US Representative Richard Neal of Springfield, who faces a Democratic primary challenge from Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse.
The MTA announcement lauds Markey as a longstanding supporter of public schools and highlights a program he pioneered in 1996 to provide Internet to schools and libraries.
Deborah Gesualdo, president of the Malden Education Association, said Markey’s experience as the first person in his family to go to college has influenced his support for public education.
“He fights for what’s right and he has stood by us in public education time and again and we’re sticking with him,” she said.
In June, Markey addressed a car rally organized by the MTA in his hometown of Malden to press for more federal funding for the state and its schools.
“It is our educators who are molding the next generation of leaders for our state, our city, our nation, and we must provide them with the health care, wages, and protections they deserve,” Markey said Saturday in a statement. “I’m proud to have the Massachusetts Teachers Association’s support, and will continue to fight for them, for public education, and for all union workers in the United States Senate.”
Kennedy also has support from organized labor, including more than “60 labor organizations and tens of thousands of union workers across the state who know that the working families of Massachusetts need a change,” a campaign spokeswoman said.
Teachers unions statewide have spent the summer speaking out against school reopening plans focused on in-person learning and deriding teacher layoffs during the coronavirus pandemic.
On Wednesday, Senator Elizabeth Warren joined representatives from the two statewide teachers unions and the Boston Teachers Union in a livestream event to discuss how to reopen schools. Warren has endorsed Markey.
Markey and Kennedy are scheduled to debate Sunday at 7 p.m. at the NBCUniversal Boston Media Center in Needham. NBC10 Boston and NECN plan to broadcast the debate live and Telemundo Boston will air the event at 11 p.m. Sunday.
Markey’s union support includes the backing of American Postal Workers Union of Massachusetts and UNITE HERE Local 26, which represents hotel, food service, airport, and gaming workers.
The Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts and Massachusetts Laborers are among the unions who endorsed Kennedy.
Last month, the Massachusetts AFL-CIO announced it would not endorse either candidate.
Workers for both campaigns have unionized.