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Mayor Walsh addresses Greater Boston Labor Council annual Labor Day Breakfast

September 1, 2014


Published by:

Labor Relations

Today, Mayor Martin J. Walsh addressed a group of labor leaders, elected officials, community leaders, and others for the Greater Boston Labor Council’s annual Labor Day Breakfast, “United Unions for Strong Communities.”

In his remarks, Mayor Walsh reflected on his background as the son of Irish immigrants, whose father found work as a union laborer to support his family. He praised the union leaders in the room for their successes in securing an increase in the minimum wage, extending health and safety protections to state workers, and in the passage of the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights.

Mayor Walsh recounted additional successes in the support of his Living Wage Ordinance, and the resolution of longstanding unsettled contracts with the City of Boston. Since taking office in January, Mayor Walsh has overseen the successful negotiations of a number of City union contracts, including those with the Boston Fire Department, two of the Boston Police unions, city librarians, and most recently with the Emergency Medical Services workers.

He also called on labor leaders to recognize a turning point:

You are building on success now. And that requires different tactics and a different tone. It’s time to do less battling, and more building. You don’t need a bullhorn when you’re in the boardroom. Believe me, they hear you loud and clear.
Here in Massachusetts—here in Boston—you are no longer on the outside looking in. You are at the table, helping to build a permanent foundation for change. I learned in the Building Trades that to make something that will stand the test of time, everyone has to work together to build a solid foundation. And when we are talking about our future, that means everyone. Workers and management. Elected officials, community leaders, and business owners. Everyone. Together.

Mayor Walsh challenged unions to help him make Boston the country’s premier city for working families, and to remove the obstacles facing working people, particularly women and people of color. He cited his appointment as Vice Chair of a new Task Force with the U.S. Conference of Mayors called Cities of Opportunity, created to address growing income inequality. And he challenged labor leaders to “take the lead and set the tone that says: it’s time to work together.” He said:

What Americans want for our country; and what Bostonians want for our city: a labor movement that is strong and smart can provide. You’ve done it before and you can do it again. We need your energy, your ideas, your determination, and your heartfelt love of this great city and state.
Everyone in this room knows how to lift people out of poverty, train workers for success, and build shared prosperity.
That’s how labor will help rebuild the middle class.

Prior to his election, Mayor Walsh rose through the leadership of Laborers Local 223 union, serving as head of the Building and Construction Trades Council of the Metropolitan District. In this role, he worked with business and community leaders and city officials to promote high-quality development and new jobs for the city. In partnership with the Boston Housing Authority, he created Building Pathways, a pre-apprentice program connecting building trades jobs and opportunities with those traditionally underrepresented in the industry, mainly women and people of color.

The Labor Day Breakfast is held each year to recognize the contributions of the labor movement, and to honor the sacrifices made by those who fight for working people every day.

Chartered by the National AFL-CIO, the Greater Boston Labor Council’s mission is to improve the lives of working families, and to build a movement of unions and workers to advocate for working family issues in city and town halls throughout Greater Boston. Today’s event was held at the Park Plaza Hotel with nearly 1,000 people in attendance.