PAT GREENHOUSE/GLOBE STAFF/FILE/2017
What is Charlie Baker thinking?
By accepting the endorsement of Teamsters Local 25 on Thursday, the governor has effectively ended the union’s political ostracization — and done so with a bipartisan exclamation point.
Four years ago, the Democrats who usually receive organized labor’s support retreated from the group after one of the local’s most recent brushes with the law, when members hurled racist and sexist epithets at a TV host in Milton. Then-candidate Maura Healey, for instance, returned donations she’d received.
That was the right thing to do.
Now the governor — the Republican governor, no less — is expressing his pride in Local 25’s support.
What’s changed to merit the local’s redemption?
The leadership, described by reformers within the union as allied with national president Jimmy Hoffa Jr., remains the same. And while the acquittal of the individual Teamsters in the “Top Chef” case last year rendered a legal verdict, that shouldn’t be confused with political exoneration for its actions. The basic facts — that the Teamsters resorted to racial and sexual harassment and threats of violence — weren’t challenged in the trial.
And those are just the latest in a string of troubling events, going back for decades, including extortion and racketeering and links to organized crime. The union’s defenders tend to write off its thuggish history as part of the distant past — but new problems keep emerging. Even before the 2014 “Top Chef” incident, the current president, Sean O’Brien, was suspended by the Teamsters’ Independent Review Board for two weeks after saying rivals within the union “need to be punished.”
In a statement, Billy Pitman, Baker’s deputy campaign manager, cited the court acquittals:
“The governor is pleased those issues were thoroughly examined and settled in a court of law and believes harassment, hateful speech, and bullying have no place in Massachusetts and are not representative of the 11,500 hardworking members and families of Teamsters Local 25 who are a driving force behind the Commonwealth’s growth and success,” he said.
But to be clear, the problem isn’t, and never has been, the rank-and-file workers in the union. It’s the institutional behavior of an organization whose leaders have been given little reason to change their ways.
To be fair, Baker is far from the first Massachusetts political figure to enable the Teamsters. Senator Elizabeth Warren and House Speaker Robert DeLeo, among others, seem all too happy to look the other way.
But all of them — Baker, Warren, DeLeo and the rest of the state’s politicos — can do better than this.
The historic concerns about hydropower are understandable. But it’s time to get everyone to yes.Continue reading »
The Trump administration’s “public charge” rule is chilling and cruel, and letters from Massachusetts officials show how the policy would hurt immigrants.Continue reading »
Black women who speak against abusive men are considered traitors.Continue reading »
Venezuela this Christmas is sunk in misery, as it was last Christmas, and the Christmas before that.Continue reading »
Women have zero power in church decisions. Instead, hundreds of celibate men get together, by themselves, and decide what women need.Continue reading »
Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen may be the face of the manufactured humanitarian disaster, but Miller is the brains.Continue reading »
The Supreme Court case of a Colorado cake maker will pit free speech against civil rights.Continue reading »
There is significant agreement on gun control, even among Trump voters in Gun Country.Continue reading »
President Trump’s age-old tactic is to bully China and Europe — and it seems to be working.Continue reading »