The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Kerry's convention threatened by labor farce

For most of the 1960s and 1970s, the trades unions in Britain exercised an increasingly vicious stranglehold on governments of both main parties.

But I can't recall any Labour Party Conference of the period being put at risk by what was misleadingly known as industrial action.

That is precisely what has happened to the ill-starred Democratic Convention, due to get underway in around seven weeks time in the Fleet Center, home of the Boston Celtics [1].

And just who is the nigger in the woodpile? None other than the Boston Police Patrolman's Association - can one think of an organisation more likely to be deeper in the Democratic core? But the BPPA is in contract negotiation with Mayor Menino, and is using what leverage it has. Which is plenty.

Except - just hold on one cotton picking minute. A cursory search reveals that the BPPA is not by any means a reliable member of the Dem family. It's described, in coverage of the current farrago as, Republican-friendly - eg, AP April 30, with
a long tradition of endorsing GOP candidates for president

The same piece says the union endorsed George Bush I in 1988 (against home state Michael Dukakis) - and Jim Rappaport (against one J Kerry) for the US Senate in 1990 [2].

However, at contract negotiation time, the union has previously also leafleted tourists with unflattering descriptions of the city and threatened the running of the Marathon.

Another thing: the last contract expired in July 2002: before the Dems decided to bring the convention to Boston. Surely the first thing the organisers would have demanded assurances on would have been an early agreement of a new police contract.

I've no desire to get into the minutiae; but the Globe (February 24) has Menino passing negotations on the contract to a state board, after they had languished since November. The cops suggest that the city had been dragging its feet. But, why would it do that, knowing the humungous leverage the cops would get if things were left until the run-up to the Convention? (The Joint Labor-Management Committee is apparently known to take its time as a rule.)

The Globe (March 29) says the Boston police are the best paid in the country - with one or two extraordinary perks on top - the open sesame words are Quinn bill, apparently.

A good three months ago now, the BPPA was calling for a boycott of the Convention (Globe March 10), not only by police by other delegates, too. At that stage, it had garnered the support of 18 unions in nine states.

In particular, the Illinois Police Benevolent and Protective Association, whose director, Sean Smoot (!), is quoted as saying
If they cross a picket line, they'll be doing it through us or over us

Of course, Mayor Daley showed us some years ago how benevolent and protective police from Illinois could be at a Dem convention...

Coming up to date, the BPPA picket of the Fleet Center is now operative; and (Herald June 8)
Over the weekend Local 2222 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers said its members would honor the police picket.

Local 2222 are the guys due to wire the place for sound. And vision.

(Other unions are prepared to cross the picket line.)

And the Greater Boston Labor Council, to put extra pressure on Menino, have rejected a no-strike deal with the Convention organisers (Globe June 8) - though unions with members working on the site apparently wanted the deal [3].

Oh, and the delegates from Maine, all 36 of them, won't be crossing the BPPA line. As Maine goes, so goes the nation?

  1. Dem Mayor Thomas Menino is still thrilled to have the Convention come to town, according to the Convention site. I wonder...

  2. AP says 1988 - oh dear. The union gave Kerry the nod over William Weld in 1996, though.

  3. The police are far from the only city employees without contracts: other groups would no doubt take advantage of the police action, and any favourable terms it secured, as leverage for their own negotiations.

    How on earth did this mess happen in the first place?

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