Home / Community Comment /

To the Editor: Allen off the mark on his union assessment

To the Editor:
Candidate for State Representative Corey Allen showed either a lack of respect for unions or a limited knowledge of labor history when he attempted to dismiss strong labor support for State Representative Dan Cullinane by stating “a number of people in the community feel they are not being represented by unions, so a union-backed candidate such as Cullinane means little to them.” (Dorchester Reporter, “Political Round-up: Mattapan’s Allen challenges Cullinane in Sept. primary,” July 24, 2014) Not only were Mr. Allen’s comments insulting to union members, they were also inaccurate.

Nearly 12 percent of the roughly 23,000 registered voters Allen hopes will support him are members of a union. Our union, AFSCME Council 93, has nearly 300 union households in the district alone.

But the real problem here is that Allen skipped an opportunity to educate voters on the many accomplishments by labor that have benefitted countless individuals and families who are not fortunate enough to be part of a union. Higher wages, paid sick and vacation time, and important workplace safety standards are a few of labor’s victories that have since been incorporated into many non-union jobs. Allen could have educated the community and promoted unionism by mentioning any of these things. He could have also talked about AFSCME’s work to make sure essential public services are adequately funded and deployed in the district and throughout the city. Instead, Allen chose to run the same old tired playbook that many aspiring politicians turn to: the wrongful portrayal of union members as a narrowly-focused special interest group who only help themselves.

Perhaps Allen doesn’t know enough about labor history. Or maybe he chose to ignore what he does know. Either way, it’s a problem that 12th Suffolk District voters should be mindful of when they head to the polls in September.

-Charles C. Owen, President AFSCME Council 93 and AFSCME Local 804 Medford
Christopher “Tiger” Stockbridge, President AFSCME Local 1631 Dorchester
Kevin Turner, President AFSCME Local 445
Daniel Moriarty, President AFSCME Local 944 Mattapan
John J. Beggan, President AFSCME Local 783 South Boston
David Mini, President AFSCME Local 1892 8
Timothy J. Bradeen, President AFSCME Local 1198 Dorchester