Lingering ill will over the AFL-CIO’s decision not to endorse in the US Senate Democratic primary has roiled the close-knit world of Massachusetts unions, with a coalition of building trades and firefighter groups lashing out at what they see as a betrayal of US Representative Stephen F. Lynch, a former union president.
The decision, made earlier this month, robbed Lynch of a potentially pivotal injection of campaign cash and manpower as he continues to trail US Representative Edward J. Markey in public polling. And Lynch’s labor allies are worried that the perceived snub could dilute the movement’s influence with its go-to guy if he loses and remains in the House, where he cofounded the Congressional Labor and Working Families Caucus.
“Steve’s out of our ranks, and it’s not just that,” said Frank Callahan, president of the Massachusetts Building Trades Council, which has endorsed Lynch. “He’s not just a union member, he’s a former union president.”
The friction speaks to a larger divide within the national movement, between its more progressive and centrist wings, old rivalries that flare up sporadically. In the race to fill the seat left open when John F. Kerry became secretary of state, the hardhats and firefighters are backing Lynch, while teachers’ unions and the politically influential Service Employees International unions prefer Markey.
But the personal nature of the local discord, among union members who have been friends and worked on campaigns together for decades, has imbued it with added intensity.
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