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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Laboring for support

News flash: Massachusetts public employee unions are unhappy with Deval Patrick, who they accuse of trying to balance the state budget on the backs of their members.

Old news: labor rank and file votes far more conservatively than leadership, dating back to the days of the hard hat supporters of Richard Nixon, to the Boston Police Patrolman's Union endorsement of George H.W. Bush over Michael Dukakis in 1988 up to their support for Scott Brown over leadership-endorsed Martha Coakley.

So, the proper context to view the clash taking place these days is to ask what does labor bring to the table, aside from votes? And how credible are leadership threats when they can't deliver their members?

Union support of course brings campaign cash and a corps of members who will make the calls and stand out with the campaign signs at key events. Even when they plan to vote for the other guy (entry for Jan. 11).

But they also can bring baggage -- and in this campaign there's a lot of talk around the cost of the some of the victories labor obtained for its support of legislative and gubernatorial candidates.

The Quinn Bill. Generous health insurance benefits that continue into retirement. The battle over random drug testing in the face of deadly examples of abuse. There is a strong undercurrent that the waste, fat and abuse that many people want to see stripped from government comes from collectively bargained benefits.

And that undercurrent comes from many of the same people who are receiving those benefits.

So where, exactly, is union leadership going to turn? Charlie Baker and Tim Cahill are talking about cuts even deeper than those already implemented by Patrick and the Legislature. Grace Ross?

In the end, I suspect we will see a loveless marriage. Union leaders will offer tepid support for who they view as the least of all evils. And rank and file will continue to do what they have been doing for 40 years and vote against leadership-backed candidates.

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1 Comments:

Blogger Judy Meredith said...

So sad............to repeat your words..........

In the end, I suspect we will see a loveless marriage. Union leaders will offer tepid support for who they view as the least of all evils. And rank and file will continue to do what they have been doing for 40 years and vote against leadership-backed candidates.

March 08, 2010 3:08 PM  

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