The attacks on union members continues every day. Now the candidate for the Massachusetts Republican Party is on the radio talking about ‘Union Thugs’ and their involvement in the elections. These outrageous statements did not go unnoticed. Steve Toland, President of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO sent out this letter to all the media outlets in the region.
Rick Green, who is a candidate for Chairman of the Massachusetts Republican Party, owes an apology to the 400,000 hardworking union members in Massachusetts.
Mr. Green recently showed his disregard for working families on a local radio station by referring to union campaign volunteers as ‘union thugs’. It is understandable that Mr. Green is upset with the outcome of the 2012 elections and the vital role that working people played in it. However, instead of disparaging union members he should be applauding them for their participation in the democratic process.
Thousands of Massachusetts union members did what we would like all Americans do to. They educated themselves on the issues, supported the candidates whose positions aligned with their own, organized themselves and did what working people do best – they worked their hearts out to secure a better future for themselves and their families. They called their friends and co-workers, knocked on doors, showed support at rallies and events, drove voters to the polls and voted for the candidates of their choice. Isn’t that what democracy is all about?
Later in his interview Mr. Green lamented the Republican Party’s loss of support among union families and discusses strategies for bringing them to the GOP. If I might offer some advice to him I would suggest the following: Before the Republican Party can begin building support among working families and organizing a volunteer base they must offer a platform that is not hostile to those same families. The current Republican message of lower wages, cutting vital safety nets for seniors, the disabled and unemployed, deregulation of financial institutions that prey on the rest of us, encouraging good paying jobs to be sent overseas, and other items that negatively impact average working families needs to change. Working people have felt the impact of these failed policies and roundly rejected them in November – both at the ballot box and on the campaign trail.
If Mr. Green and the Massachusetts Republican Party want to court hardworking union families a good start would be to stop hurling insults at them, listen to their concerns and offer real solutions to address them. The Republican Party and our public discourse would both benefit.
Steven A. Tolman
President, Massachusetts AFL-CIO