The Electrical Worker online
October 2012

IBEW Mobilizes for Races
index.html Home    print Print    email Email

Go to
Massachusetts IBEW Takes on
Wall Street's Favorite Senator

In 2010, Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown (R) shocked the political world by winning the low-turnout special election to replace the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, a major upset in this reliability Democratic state.

Most disturbing for many union activists is that Bay State union voters, who overwhelmingly went for President Obama in 2008, favored Brown by a small margin.

"It was a huge wake-up call for us," says Boston Local 2222 member Paul Feeney, a Verizon technician who also serves as the local's legislative director. "Somewhere along the line we forgot to talk to our members about the issues, and engage them in their communities."

But Feeney says the labor movement learned its lesson, and is gearing up to oust Brown and elect long-time Wall Street critic and consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren to the U.S. Senate.

"She's a proven fighter for the middle class," he says. "And a fighter for keeping good jobs in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts." She also supports Verizon workers, calling on the company to sign a fair contract with its employees.

The company and its union have maintained an uneasy peace since a strike over a year ago. Talks to renew the contract that expired last year have not yet yielded an agreement.

Creator of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a new federal-level regulatory agency which protects consumers from the predatory behavior of big banks, Warren faced opposition from Senate Republicans who blocked her nomination to head it because of their opposition to any new regulations on Wall Street.

"She understands how important it is to get people back to work and how unions can play a role in getting the economy moving," says Worcester Local 96 President Bob Fields.

Feeney says the IBEW is working with the state AFL-CIO to reach out to other members in workplaces and in their communities.

"We can't say, 'This is who the union endorsed, go vote for them'," he says. "They need to know the issues and why the IBEW made the endorsement it did, because we need our people talking to their friends and families about Warren — at Little League games, neighborhood picnics, anything going on in the community."

Brown portrays himself as an everyman and a friend of working families, touring the state once again in his now famous pick-up truck, but his voting record tells a different story.

He voted against working families 29 times according the Massachusetts AFL-CIO and has a history of cozy relations with big-money lobbyists, fighting to water down regulations on Wall Street speculators and voting against the Davis-Bacon Act and paycheck fairness legislation meant to guarantee equal pay for equal work.

Brown also joined with other Republicans in killing pro-jobs legislation, including the American Jobs Act, which would have created more than 10,000 construction jobs.

"He talks middle class in front of the cameras, but when the rubber hits the road, he's on the other side," says Feeney.

"Who cares about a pick-up truck?" says Fields. "Warren gets that Massachusetts needs a senator who will put the middle class and jobs first, not corporate special interests or GOP extremists."


Local members in Massachusetts rally for Elizabeth Warren, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, who established the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.