Walsh produced the spoof for the St. Patrick’s Day breakfast roast. He wore an Adele-like fur coat and left unrequited phone messages for Baker. The video suggested that the “Bromance between Mayor Walsh and Gov. Baker” had fallen on tough times. The mayor was trying to do his best to get things back on track.
“I’m not amused,” wrote Michael P. Monahan, a vice president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, in the subject line of an e-mail to union members.
“I thought of going into one of my many rants but am really hoping there’s a 20- or 30-year-old trade unionist out there who does it for me,” Monahan wrote in the e-mail, which was obtained by the Globe. “What man could ever lower himself to this level if he had an ounce of conviction in his body for our issues?”
In an interview, Monahan said he was offended that Walsh, even in a parody, “put himself at the feet of a governor with such antiunion positions.” Baker stopped the expansion of the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, which would have provided hundreds of construction jobs, Monahan said, and is trying to push out union workers by privatizing segments of the MBTA.
The mayor defended himself, saying in an interview he had always stood up to privatization. He said he was taken aback by the e-mail and suggested Monahan was “upset that I won the mayor’s race.”
“I don’t know if it is sour grapes, but it’s unfortunate that tone would be taken in that e-mail,” Walsh said. “It was a lighthearted skit. It was a funny thing. That’s what the breakfast is all about. Let’s not take ourselves so seriously.”
In a statement, Baker’s office said he had “worked across the aisle with organized labor to improve state government.” The governor’s effort resulted in $15-an-hour wages for personal care attendants and funding increases at the Department of Children and Families, according to the statement issued by Baker’s press secretary.
Before taking office, Walsh was a union president and worked as an influential labor leader running the Boston Metropolitan District Building Trades Council , an umbrella group representing carpenters, laborers, pipe fitters, and others in the construction trades.
Organized labor fueled the engine that powered Walsh’s run for mayor, providing door knockers, sign holders, and millions of dollars in campaign donations.
The video, which by Wednesday afternoon had been viewed nearly 40,000 times, drew almost exclusively positive coverage in the press. The Boston Herald credited the video spoof with “knocking the crowd dead.” Boston Magazine described it as “the consensus winner at Sunday’s breakfast.” A Boston Globe columnist offered a behind-the-scenes look at the video’s inspiration.
Steven A. Tolman, president of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, attended the breakfast and rejected Monahan’s criticism.
“Why are people making an issue out of that? That’s all for sport and fun,” Tolman said Wednesday in an interview from Dublin. “I’d say get over it. I was there. I thought it was a nice event. It was St. Paddy’s Day.”
In July, Monahan sent an e-mail to other union leaders calling for a picket outside a fund-raiser hosted by House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo. It was a rare display of friction with Democrats after the state budget paved the way for wider privatization at the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.
Labor leaders fear more government work will go to nonunion workers.
He was a close friend of the late mayor Thomas M. Menino, who appointed him to the Boston Redevelopment Authority board in 2013 months before leaving office. In July, Walsh replaced two Menino appointees on the board but Monahan remained.
Monahan and Walsh have known each other for decades. Walsh used Local 103 as a campaign headquarters when he first ran for state representative. But Local 103 was the only Boston building trade union that did not endorse Walsh’s bid for mayor.
The e-mail Monahan wrote this week had nothing to do with his relationship with Menino, he said, or his history with Walsh.
“I wrote the e-mail because I was extremely disappointed, frustrated, and embarrassed,” Monahan said. “This so-called union mayor has been silent — not a peep out of him — when just a couple of years ago he was running the building trades.”
As mayor, Walsh said he has amicably negotiated almost all collective bargaining contracts, reaching fair settlements for taxpayers and employees.
“I support working class people,” Walsh said. “I always have and I always will.”
Watch the video:
Andrew Ryan can be reached at email@example.com.