Few in Boston were thinking about the mayor’s race on a sun-streaked afternoon in mid-August. But that did not stop 300 union workers from taking to the streets of Hyde Park, carrying campaign signs and knocking on doors until dark.
They were hotel workers, nurses, and builders — not natural allies in terms of income, neighborhood, or line of work. But they showed up en masse that day for Martin Walsh, a state representative and former union construction worker who would come from behind and win more votes than any of his 11 rivals in the preliminary election.
That was only a taste of what labor leaders hope to deliver by Nov. 5. With the race now in full swing, and narrowed to Walsh and Councilor John Connolly, efforts to get out the union vote are ramping up. At least 40,000 union workers are registered to vote, from home health care aides to teachers, labor organizers estimate. That’s about 11 percent of total voters in Boston.
“We fought a really great fight, but we didn’t have everybody yet,’’ said Richard Rogers, executive secretary-treasurer of the Greater Boston Labor Council. “We’re going to really focus on union members that stayed home in the first round.’’
Today, 14.4 percent of Massachusetts workers carry union cards, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 12th highest percentage among the states. The figure is probably slightly higher in Boston, according to analysis by union officials for the Globe, who estimate that between 45,000 and 50,000 union members live in the city.
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