Boston Labor: Greater Than the Sum of its Parts

By David Scott, Executive Vice President

GBLC 2019 breakfast.png

Last Monday was the Greater Boston Labor Council (GBLC) annual Labor Day Breakfast. The GBLC is an organization that brings together different unions from across the Boston area to support each other. It is made up of teachers, nurses, carpenters, electricians, service workers… the list goes on and on. Even the music at the event was provided by the Boston Musicians Association (AFM local).

Over 500 people were in attendance. You could tell at this event that the GBLC has some serious clout, as the speakers were a Who’s Who of local and national politics:
Rev. Mariama White-Hammond, Bethel AME Church
Martin J. Walsh, Mayor of the City of Boston
Steve Tolman, President, Massachusetts AFL-CIO
Ed Markey, U.S. Senator
Ayanna Pressley, U.S. Congresswoman
Bill Galvin, Secretary of State
Maura Healey, Attorney General

Senator Elizabeth Warren, a speaker at last year’s event, had to turn down the invitation to pursue her presidential campaign.

All these speakers, as well as the fellowship among unionists, helped build a sense of determination and optimism. Though the union movement has taken a beating over the past 60 years, and the strength of America’s middle class has dwindled commensurately, there is reason to believe that collective bargaining and solidarity still will have a say. 2018 saw the most US labor strikes in over 20 years. Local recent victories included strikes at Marriott hotels, National Grid, Stop & Shop supermarkets, and the Martha’s Vineyard Transit Authority.

Every elected official that took the stage at the Park Plaza Hotel (an entirely union-staffed hotel) showed that they are for working families. They see themselves as partners with the labor movement to revive America’s middle class.

 The Berklee Faculty Union is not a member of the GBLC, but we were able to attend through the invitation of the Massachusetts American Federation of Teachers, who had a table there and an extra seat (thanks to President Beth Kontos, Brant Duncan and Jeremy Shenk).

As GBLC President Rich Rodgers is fond of saying, “Boston is a union town!”

Please USE YOUR NAME when commenting, to facilitate constructive discussion. Also, remember that this is a PUBLIC and searchable web site that can be seen by anyone: colleagues, department chairs, students, etc. Comment thoughtfully.