Reporter's Notebook: Labor Council vote gives endorsement to Rep. Walsh

Gintautas Dumcius, News Editor
Jul. 3, 2013

It took less than 10 minutes: After ten mayoral hopefuls stepped off the stage and left a Dorchester union hall last Thursday night, the Greater Boston Labor Council quickly voted to throw its support to state Rep. Marty Walsh.

Walsh, who has represented Dorchester in the Legislature since 1997, is a former laborer and top union official. Earlier this year, after announcing his run for mayor, he stepped down from the job of secretary-treasurer of the Boston Building Trades Council.

A few hundred delegates to the Greater Boston Labor Council (GBLC), which represents 90,000 union members in the area, were in the room for the voice vote. The council includes utility workers, machinists, and the building trades, among others. Walsh also picked up the backing of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters last week, and in May, the Massachusetts Nurses Association endorsed him.

But several unions have not yet backed a candidate. For example, members of the Boston Teachers Union were inside the union hall on Thursday and did not vote. Earlier in the day, BTU president Richard Stutman had said the union will be endorsing a candidate in the final election, but may stay out of the September preliminary. Other unions that have not yet endorsed include SEIU 1199, Boston Firefighters Local 718, and Local 26 UNITE HERE, which includes hotel workers, food services, and gaming industry workers.

The mayoral candidates had to complete a GBLC questionnaire in order to attend the forum. Rich Rogers declined to release the candidates’ answers to the Reporter. Only a blank copy of the eight-page questionnaire, which came with a separate one-page “Right to Organize Pledge,” was made available to reporters.

The questions included an inquiry on whether or not candidates support Suffolk Downs’ bid to open a casino in East Boston and one asked if they would “use the moral authority of your office” to help private sector unions settle collective bargaining disputes. During the forum itself, panelists asked candidates questions that were based on their publicly unavailable answers.

Before the GBLC vote, 10 of the 12 candidates made their cases and pushed their labor ties to the crowd of union members and delegates at the IBEW Local 103 building on Freeport Street.

For his part, Walsh said he was a second-generation laborer – his father came over from Ireland and joined the building trades. The younger Walsh’s first job, according to his campaign, was at the World Trade Center on Seaport Boulevard in South Boston. Public employee unions will be viewed as a “partner” in his administration, Walsh said.

Felix G. Arroyo, a City Councillor at-large who has worked as a political director for SEIU 615, noted that his wife is a teacher. John Barros, a former member of the Boston School Committee, said his father had worked for the Plymouth Rubber Company, while Suffolk District Attorney Dan Conley pointed to his father working for the New England Telephone Company. “Your priorities are my priorities,” like workforce housing, job training, and good schools, Conley said.

John Connolly, a City Councillor at-large who heads up the council’s Education Committee and has clashed with the teachers’ union, called the labor movement “crucial” to the middle class in Boston while Charlotte Golar Richie, a former state representative from Dorchester, said she had compiled a “near 90 percent” pro-labor voting record during her time in the House. Bill Walczak, co-founder of the Codman Square Health Center, said he met his wife during an iceberg lettuce boycott, based on the treatment of farm workers. “Our dates were handing out those fliers,” he said.

District 8 Councillor Michael Ross, who has been endorsed by the city’s emergency services union, pointed to his efforts to rework a firefighters’ union contract that he considered unaffordable to the city. District 4 Councillor Charles Yancey cited his 30 years on the 13-member panel and said he has long supported union issues. “I have stood with you on many picket lines,” Yancey said. David James Wyatt, a Roxbury Republican and a long-shot candidate for mayor, gave a rambling speech, saying he was “100 percent” opposed to abortion. He stated that he has worked as a Boston schoolteacher and he once spent two weeks as a Teamster working for UPS.

The preliminary, which will winnow the field to two candidates, is slated for Sept. 24. The final election will be held on Nov. 5.

Two on the ballot so far for 12th Suffolk special run
The race to replace Linda Dorcena Forry, who left her 12th Suffolk House seat last month after getting sworn into the state Senate, has at least two candidates on the ballot. Dan Cullinane and Stephanie Everett, both Democrats, have each gathered the required 150 signatures, a spokesman for Secretary of State William Galvin’s office said on Tuesday.

Cullinane is a former aide to former District 3 Councillor Maureen Feeney, who is now serving as the city’s clerk. Everett is a former aide to state Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, the Jamaica Plain Democrat. The 12th Suffolk District includes parts of Dorchester, Mattapan, Hyde Park and two precincts in Milton.

Other Democrats who have pulled nomination papers include Mary Tuitt, an aide to state Rep. Gloria Fox, Ruthella Logan, and Carlotta Williams. The three of them have submitted their signatures, according to the Boston Election Department.

Edmond Romulus, a Milton resident, says he has pulled papers and intends to run as an independent. Romulus and another independent, Lincoln Larmond, have submitted signatures to Boston City Hall.

The deadline for submitting signatures to local registrars was this past Tuesday, July 2. The primary is set for Aug. 13; the final election will be on Sept. 10.

It’s a girl for Sen. Chang-Diaz
Over the weekend, State Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz gave birth to baby girl Mila, her office announced on Monday. In an e-mail to Senate and House staffers and lawmakers, Chang-Diaz’s chief of staff, Angela Brooks, said Mila, who came in at eight pounds and nine ounces, and her mother are “both doing great.” The baby, whose father is Bryan Hirsch and whose full name is Milholland Harriet Hirsch Chang-Diaz, was born on Saturday afternoon. Chang-Diaz, a Jamaica Plain Democrat, was first elected in 2008.

UPDATED: The item on the 12th Suffolk race was updated on Wednesday at 11:10 a.m. with information from the city's election department.

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