We Are All In by Ray Pickup
The last few months have been contentious in the great City of Lowell. Representative Chris Brennan, multiple building trades partners, and I educated the Lowell City Council, City Manager, and anyone else who would listen, about why a project labor agreement (PLA) for construction of the new Lowell High School would benefit the residents, students, and families of Lowell.
The complexity of this $343M renovation and addition made the project a prime candidate for a PLA. We educated them on our apprentice programs, safety, and available Journey upgrades that continue to make the Building Trades more efficient and skilled than non-union labor.
We held dozens of meetings with all parties and had commitments from virtually all of the City Council. They thanked us for educating them on the subject and were excited that we were concerned for the citizens of Lowell.
The only individual who did not agree was the City Manager, who has a long history of supporting the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) and Merit Construction Alliance (MCA), both of which are open-shop anti-union. She supported ABC and MCA during her time in the Massachusetts State Senate, and continued to take donations from antiunion groups as recently as a year ago.
When City Councilor Rita Mercier made a motion to authorize the City Manager to conduct a feasibility study, which is a legal necessity to have a PLA on a project, the City Manager convinced 7 of the 9 City Councilors to vote against this motion. Just minutes before the crucial vote, she put out egregiously inaccurate information on Lowell City Council letterhead.
She had direct quotes from the Beacon Hill Institute, a radical, far right, anti-union group, whose donor list includes the Koch brothers, ABC, MCA, and other antiunion groups.
The Lowell City Council had a chance to make a real impact for the residents of Lowell and to ensure the safety of children attending classes while construction is in progress. City councilors not only lied to us, but also – and more importantly – neglected the best interests of the residents of Lowell.
This year is an election year for all of the city councilors, and we intend to show the people of Lowell that their city councilors are misguided and did not represent their best interests; instead, they catered to the City Manager.
Representative Chris Brennan and I have been working tirelessly to make an impact on Lowell, and the culmination of that work is coming to a head. We will show Lowell that our word is our bond. We are in Lowell to change peoples’ lives for the better. High tide will raise all ships, but these councilors don’t have a ship left.
We have been reaching out to pro-labor candidates that have the best interest of Lowell and workers at heart. Due to our misrepresentation on the city council, union members I have spoken to are beginning the process to run for office.
We need YOUR support moving forward over the next few months to support these candidates. We can make a real difference in Lowell, but it will not be easy. Time to dig in our heels and get after it!