TURNING CAMPAIGN POETRY INTO PRO-WORKER PROSE
It was once noted by former New York Governor Mario Cuomo that elected officials “campaign in poetry, and govern in prose.” The oft-used quote is typically meant to convey that the big ideas and lofty campaign rhetoric that fill candidates’ stump speeches often gives way to compromise and half-measures that can leave even the most ardent supporters disappointed. While that interpretation is too often spot-on, the prose of governing, while perhaps lacking the excitement and flowery rhetoric of campaign speeches, can still deliver real results for working people – especially when union members stay engaged with their elected officials after election day, and in non-election years.
In the weeks and months ahead, IUPAT DC 35 will be working to ensure that the hard work our members put in throughout 2022 to elect our endorsed candidates translates into governing prose that will make a difference in the lives of our members and their families. And in the early months of 2023, we are already starting to see that hard work pay off.
When it comes to governing prose living up to campaign poetry, no one has set the bar higher for themselves than President Joe Biden. On the campaign trail, he regularly pledged to be “the most pro-union President in history.” Now, in the third year of his Administration, President Biden has the record to show that he has delivered on that promise through the hard work of governing prose.
In April, I was honored to attend the North American Building Trades Unions (NABTU) Legislative Conference along with other DC 35 staff. We got to hear President Biden deliver remarks proudly laying out a litany of pro-union accomplishments. Among them are:
The creation of more than 12 million new jobs during the first two years of his Presidency, which will be further built upon by investments made through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), which includes strong prevailing wage language and incentives for the use of registered apprenticeship programs to encourage responsible contracting. The BIL has so far created 25,000 infrastructure projects in 4,500 cities and towns across America, on the way to eventually creating 800,000 jobs through its total investment;
The Inflation Reduction Act, which incentivizes the use of the prevailing wage, registered apprenticeship programs, and apprentice ratios on the job, not only in the public sector – but in the private sector – through standards attached to grants and tax credits that will spur major investments in clean energy and green building;
The addition of 800,000 jobs in manufacturing over two years, with more in the pipeline through the CHIPS and Science Act, which includes strong prevailing wage language for construction of facilities, and investments that will spur even more domestic manufacturing;
An Executive Order requiring the use of Project Labor Agreements on federal construction projects above $35 million.
It has been observed by many that President Biden isn’t afraid to say the word “union.” That has certainly been true – but more importantly, he hasn’t been afraid to fight for unions and follow through on his campaign poetry.
A President’s agenda, however, is always dependent on the level of cooperation from Congress. In the first two years of the Biden Administration, the major legislation mentioned above was made possible by Democratic majorities in the House and Senate. With Republican control of the House in 2023, it will make these types of major legislative victories for labor much more difficult to achieve, but there are still important issues at the federal level that we hope to make an impact on.
While in Washington, DC for the NABTU Legislative Conference, DC 35 staff met with members of our federal legislative delegation and key members of their staff to discuss important issues for our union. Priority issues we discussed included our support for Acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su, who has been nominated by President Biden to succeed Marty Walsh as the Secretary of Labor, and who faces a tight confirmation vote in the Senate; the Bridge Corrosion Prevention and Repair Act; the National Apprenticeship Act; and the Protecting the Right to Organize Act. While the fate of these proposals remain uncertain in a divided Congress, we are lucky to enjoy overwhelming support on our issues from the Senators and Representatives whom our members have worked hard to send to Washington.
Closer to home, as the Healey-Driscoll Administration takes shape, there are positive signs that the prose of governing will lead to pro-worker policy in Massachusetts as well. In May, Governor Healey issued a proposed RFP for offshore wind procurement that grants preference to bids that include a Project Labor Agreement – a small sentence that can potentially lead to big job gains for our members, and something that was missing from previous RFPs issued under the Baker Administration.
Beyond Massachusetts, offshore wind procurement also presents significant opportunities in Maine, where we are engaged with other unions in a legislative campaign to include Project Labor Agreements in future procurements, as well as port development to support the offshore industry.
As I work to bring this update to a close, I suppose it’s only appropriate to shift from the prose of governing back to the poetry of campaigns. Even the end of an election year doesn’t provide much of a break from electoral politics, as the start of 2023 has brought with it important special elections that will segue right into some very significant municipal elections this fall.
In the Massachusetts 10th Suffolk House District, a vacancy led to a special election in May won by DC 35’s endorsed candidate, Bill MacGregor, whom we look forward to working with at the State House.
The election of Kim Driscoll as Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts created a vacancy in the Mayor’s office in Salem, which will be filled by a special election in May that will occur after the submission of this report. In the March preliminary election, DC 35’s endorsed candidate, Dominick Pangallo, had a very strong showing, finishing with the most votes and setting up a general election contest with the second-place finisher. DC 35 members and staff will be working hard to get Dominick over the finish line leading up to election day.
Finally, local elections this fall are shaping up and there are already two very significant open Mayor’s races that present opportunities to elect labor champions in key cities. In Manchester, NH, career-long union member, former State Senator, and current City Alderman Kevin Cavanaugh is running for Mayor with an important preliminary election coming up in September. And in Revere, MA, City Councilor (and current Acting Mayor) Patrick Keefe, who has been a staunch supporter of DC 35 throughout his tenure on the City Council, will also face a highly competitive September preliminary election. DC 35 intends to be heavily involved in both of these important races to support our endorsed candidates, and will be identifying other local elections that we can make an impact on this year.
The campaign cycle never truly stops, but with each election comes the opportunity to support DC 35 families with more pro-worker governing prose.