News

WGBH COMMENTARY
Boston Calling: Crime? Or Politics As Usual?

By Harvey Silverglate

On September 25th - 27th, 2019, over 200 delegates and guests will gather for the Biennial Constitutional Convention of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO.

I was raised in a company house, in a company town, where the miners had to buy their own oilers – that is, rubber coveralls – drill bits, and other tools at the company store.

That company, Inco Limited, the world’s leading producer of nickel for most of the 20th century, controlled the town of Sudbury, Ontario, but never succeeded in owning the souls of the men and women who lived and worked there.

That’s because these were union men and women: self-possessed, a little rowdy, and well aware that puny pleas from individual workers fall on deaf corporate ears.

When UAW member Gary Franklin found himself sidelined from his job by health issues, he knew he could turn to his Union Plus Credit Card for hardship help. He was eligible to apply for the Union Plus Job Loss Grant.

A year after a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling that threatened to cripple public sector unions, they seem to be holding their own.

Government employees, it turns out, see value in belonging to unions. Membership in Illinois government unions actually has increased a year after the June 27, 2018, ruling in Janus vs. AFSCME, as Sun-Times Washington Bureau Chief Lynn Sweet reported in a recent column.

Raise a glass to the longest economic expansion in modern American history.

A full decade has passed since the end of the last recession, in June 2009, and the economy continues to grow. As of Monday, the current expansion surpassed the previous record for uninterrupted growth, set between 1991 and 2001.

But this time around, no one is accusing Americans of irrational exuberance: These good times don’t feel particularly good. Economic growth over the past decade has been slow and fragile, and most of the benefits have been claimed by a small minority of  the population.

On the morning of September 10, 2012, the bells rang to open Chicago’s public schools, but there were no teachers in the classrooms.

The night before, negotiations with Chicago’s reform-minded mayor, Rahm Emanuel, had gone south, and the new activist leaders of the city’s 25,000-member teachers union, clad all in red, walked out. Surrounded by a throng of cameras, they declared that their members would go on strike for the first time in 25 years.

The Massachusetts AFL-CIO would like to thank Senate President Karen Spilka and her leadership team, and lead sponsor Senator Joseph Boncore, for their hard work and commitment to bringing S.2273 to a vote; and we thank the State Senate for their bipartisan support, with a 38 to 1 vote.