Shorter Shirley Leung:
The government needs to be tough on unions and cave in to business demands.
She had two columns yesterday. Here she is on Marty Walsh and unions:
As a state representative, he carried a prolabor agenda on Beacon Hill, and as the former union leader who has become a serious mayoral hopeful, he has accepted so much money from unions — about one-quarter of his $1.3 million war chest — even he is self-conscious about it.
“I didn’t think I’d get a question about unions,” he said dryly, during a televised debate the other night. “I haven’t heard about it the whole race.”
It’s a stock response to a central question of Walsh’s candidacy, one that doesn’t get old because it never gets answered: How tough can he be on unions, particularly municipal unions, after they tossed several hundred thousand dollars at his campaign?
In my attempt to answer this question, I strode into the lion’s den, which is McKenna’s Café in Savin Hill, to have breakfast with Walsh himself. We both ordered the oatmeal. If nothing else, we lowered our cholesterol for the day.
She better be careful of those union thugs. Here she is on the new software tax in Massachusetts:
I have only one question for Deval Patrick: What took you so long?
You knew, back in June, about growing opposition to the software tax tucked into your transportation finance bill. Tech and business leaders warned the levy was so broadly written it would have a devastating impact, not only on the tech industry, but on any company that buys sophisticated software. These days, that’s just about everyone.
So, maybe after all these years, it is true. The tech industry has been that unloved stepchild under Patrick, who in his first term showered the biotech industry with a much ballyhooed $1 billion initiative. The message: You save lives, you get tax breaks and grants. If you just make lives better with technology, who cares.
It wasn’t always like this. Or so I thought.
Four years ago, the governor created what has become the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative in an effort to recapture our high-tech glory days, when Wang Laboratories and Digital Equipment Corp. made us the computing epicenter of the world. His administration also created tech internships to grow and retain talent, launched a big data initiative, and set up a $50 million research and development fund for new technologies such as robotics.
Just last August, the Patrick administration stepped in to reverse a state ban on Uber, a cutting-edge online car service, even giving us a heads up via tweet: “With all @massgovernor has done for the innovation economy, we’re not shutting down @uber_bos. Working on a swift resolution.’’
When the ban was lifted, Patrick tweeted: “Problem solved. @Uber_BOS is all set. Thx for your patience.’’
How cool is our governor?
Fast forward a year later, and I don’t think that anymore. But hopefully this is the week that Patrick begins to get his tech cred back.
They didn’t get absolutely everything they want, it’s terrible to be them.
I shouldn’t pick on Leung for the union bashing with respect to Walsh though, it’ a Boston Globe constant:
Walsh, who speaks eloquently about education and gay rights, doesn’t want to be typecast as “the union guy.” But since unions can give $15,000 — compared to $500 for individuals — this is where he gets his edge. In the last two weeks of August, more than 30 percent of his funds came from unions, not counting donations from individual union members. He’s gotten $14,999 each from the Bridge and Structural Ironworkers Union Local 7 and the Teamsters Local Union #25. Boston firefighters gave him $15,000. It’s hard not to wonder how this will translate at the bargaining table if Walsh becomes mayor.
For much of this crowd, winning means electing Walsh. Which raises some questions for him. What will he owe labor for victory, if it comes? As mayor, could he say no to union supporters once he is sitting across from them at the negotiating table?
In his breakfast speech, Walsh went out of his way to address the elephant in that ballroom packed with union backers: “Certain people,” he said, “are going to claim that labor unions are just another bunch of people looking out for number one. That couldn’t be more wrong. But just in case there’s anyone out there following this race who might wonder, let me state in the most direct and certain terms possible: I can and I will represent all the people of this city to the utmost of my ability, with fear or favor for none and with fairness for all.”
After the event, Walsh said that he could “absolutely” stand up when necessary to union supporters. As mayor, he said, “the voters and the taxpayers are the first priority for me. . . I’m not going to be the person giving the city away.”
In a Thursday sit-down, Walsh said he’ll neither reject (or offset) the big-dollar union contributions nor declare that he doesn’t want supportive groups like the firefighters to run independent-expenditure ads on his behalf.
Walsh stressed that he has more than 4,000 individual contributors. Still, his big haul of union money raises this question: What degree of independence would he bring to the mayor’s office? As we’ve seen before, powerful public-sector unions sometimes help create a dysfunctional political dynamic. Those unions help politicians get elected — and then push the politically beholden office-holder for wage-and-benefit packages (or other advantages) that aren’t affordable over the long term.
It’s a constant refrain: taking money from unions is bad, obviously because unions are bad. Of course all these anti-union rants are offset by the union section in the paper … ha ha, I kid.
If I still lived in Boston, each of these columns would make me more likely to vote for Walsh.