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Fifty-five years ago, in a speech to the convention of the Illinois AFL-CIO, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. laid out with characteristic moral clarity the essential role of unions in American life. “The labor movement,” he explained, “was the principal force that transformed misery and despair into hope and progress … [When] the wave of union organization crested over the nation, it carried to secure shores not only itself but the whole society. Civilization began to grow in the economic life of man, and a decent life with a sense of security and dignity became a reality rather than a distant dream.”

This Labor Day, America’s working families are facing unprecedented challenges.

Until last week, Li Zilles was one of the many nameless and faceless contractors toiling in the bowels of the internet, providing online services that might have been mistaken for the work of artificial intelligence.

The job: to transcribe audio files for the start-up Rev.com, churning out texts without clients ever knowing the name of the transcriber.

This was a lonely existence, and not an easy one. The pay, even though the work was full-time, was little enough that food stamps became necessary.

When the global economy shifted in the late 19th century, working people were the first to adapt. They moved to cities like Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Toledo, Ohio, and worked long hours in unsafe factories. They drove the Industrial Revolution and changed the nature of work forever. When it became clear that employers were exploiting their productivity, the labor movement formed to protest abuses like sweatshops, child labor, and poverty wages.

On September 13 more than a hundred activists participated in a bicoastal protest at Palantir’s two headquarters, in New York City and in Palo Alto, California. The intent of the protest was to bring awareness to the tech company’s involvement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which Palantir provides with data-mining software that’s been used to screen undocumented immigrants and plan raids.

"Our hearts go out to the family of Laborers Local 175 member, Dennis Robertson, who tragically lost his life on Wednesday in a workplace accident in Haverhill. Dennis Robertson went to work on Wednesday expecting to do his job and return home to his family for Thanksgiving, but instead this father of four is gone and his family shattered. We mourn for Robertson, his family and his union brothers and sisters. Our prayers are also with the other laborer who was involved in this accident, still in hospital with serious injuries.

When the global economy shifted in the late 19th century, working people were the first to adapt. They moved to cities like Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Toledo, Ohio, and worked long hours in unsafe factories. They drove the Industrial Revolution and changed the nature of work forever.

This election season saw a surge of union member and pro-working family candidates for municipal office. The Massachusetts Central Labor Councils and Assemblies endorsed in many races to help create a government where working people have a voice. 

Here are our newly elected labor endorsed candidates listed by city:

Boston