WBUR

Brown, Warren Battle For The Union Vote

Surrounded by police officers, U.S. Sen. Scott Brown speaks during a campaign event in Milford on Thursday. (Steven Senne/AP)

Surrounded by police officers, U.S. Sen. Scott Brown speaks during a campaign event in Milford on Thursday. (Steven Senne/AP)

BOSTON — On the eve of the final weekend before Election Day, both candidates for Massachusetts’ U.S. Senate seat are going all out on the campaign trail.

And on the trail, both Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Scott Brown and Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren have been reaching out to unions.

Two years ago, Democratic nominee Martha Coakley showed that when you run for the U.S. Senate, it’s not enough to get union endorsements. Most unions endorsed her, but an exit poll by the AFL-CIO found that 49 percent of the union rank and file voted for her opponent, Brown. Warren is working hard to make sure that doesn’t happen again.

One argument she uses is that Brown has voted against creating union jobs. Here she is this fall addressing a huge room of union organizers and rank and file members in Dorchester:

The president proposed a jobs bill that would prevent the layoffs of teachers, of firefighters, of police officers, all over Massachusetts and all over the country. Scott Brown and every other Republican voted no.

And then a week after that, the president proposed another jobs bill that would have supported 11,000 jobs here in Massachusetts, mostly construction jobs, repairing our roads and bridges that need to be repaired. Scott Brown and every other Republican voted no.

Union workers listen to Elizabeth Warren at a lunch in Dorchester this fall. (Fred Thys/WBUR)

Union workers listen to Elizabeth Warren at a lunch in Dorchester this fall. (Fred Thys/WBUR)

Brown says he voted against the measures because they would have increased taxes. He addressed the issue recently at a pizzeria in North Andover:

So you think you have a jobs bill. You think, oh, my gosh, that’s going to create jobs. It doesn’t tell you that it’s really a tax bill and it’s going to tax $450 billion out of private sector and businesses like this to give to the federal government in an effort to increase government spending.

At Warren’s union lunch, there was a big guy listening with rapt attention. He has “Pickup” tattooed in Gothic letters on his forearm. It’s not because he drives a pickup; it’s because that’s his name: Ray Pickup. Warren is counting on people like Pickup to bring union workers around.

“She has no voting record yet, so you don’t know how she’s going to vote, but she’s one of us,” Pickup said. “You can look in her eyes and believe what she says, that she absolutely is one of us. She has kinda become kinda like ‘Underdog’ around here. She is standing up for the people. She is one of us.”

“He’s For Us” is the signature line of Brown’s campaign. But Pickup doesn’t buy it.

“He wants to be like one of us, and he will never be one of us, and he will never be one of us because he is not in the middle class,” Pickup said. “He is not one of us.”

But when Pickup tries to persuade people to vote for Warren, he comes up against Brown’s argument.

“He sits there and says he’s from Massachusetts, ‘So vote for me. Elizabeth Warren is not from Massachusetts, so don’t vote for her.’ That was one little angle that a lot of people look at. She’s not from Massachusetts, so she’s not one of us.”

Pickup, a glazier, doesn’t buy it.

“I drive a pickup truck,” he said. “No one’s going to be fooled by the pickup truck and no one’s going to be fooled by the Carhartt jacket, like everyone was before.”

And Pickup feels that he has an easier time winning over people for Warren than he did two years ago for Coakley. “Scott Brown has voted against so many things that we stand by, and that’s a track record now,” he said.

One of Brown’s former colleagues in the state Senate, Steve Tolman, is now the president of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO. At the Democratic National Convention, Tolman joked it’s his job to talk to the white guys, to win them over for Warren. He wouldn’t repeat that in a recent interview, but he did explain why he thinks Brown got the votes of so many union members two years ago:

Scott Brown, in his reelection to state Senate, was just endorsed by the state AFL-CIO, and during that time, he worked across the aisle with the Democrats. I was in there. I worked with Scott on several different issues. Scott never hid the fact at that point that he was a Republican and he was frankly pretty proud of the fact that he was a union member.

But Brown still has union support — in particular, many police unions. At an event in Milford Thursday, Brown was surrounded by police officers.

Among the people in the audience was Milford’s police chief, Tom O’Loughlin, who is drawn to Brown not so much for his support for police officers as for his independence.

“I believe that he does come from the center, and that’s where I come from,” O’Loughlin said. “I’m not tied to any one philosophy or any one political approach — conservative when it comes to economic things, and then on social programs, I tend to lean where you help people as best you’re able to. I believe that’s where he comes from.”

But it wasn’t just police officers who were there. Hopkinton firefighter Caz Piorkowski also likes Brown.

“The independent voice, and just being able to use common sense when we make our decisions,” Piorkowski said about why he likes Brown.

The Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts has endorsed Warren, but Piorkowski illustrates the challenge union leaders have in peeling rank and file union members away from Brown.

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  • FrancisMcManus

    Scott Brown’s natural constituency is the burp out loud and laugh crowd, not the burp out loud and apologize crowd. And he himself is a SAG/AFTRA member from his days as a male, mostly clothes-on, model.

    And it’s true they’re both fighting for union votes but the truth is she cleaned his clock in getting the support of union leadership and for good reason. 

    He took a bunch of bad votes that hurt working people, such as against Obama’s NLRB nominee, and against the right to collective bargaining and one other which I forget at the moment. Mostly these votes  indicate his Republican party is a big problem for him if he wants to support labor and the middle class.  Republicans went after collective bargaining in Republican majority states. They hurt working people just to cripple union support for Democrats.  It’s vicious, and working families were the Republicans collateral damage. His votes against the middle class are even more egregious than his votes against labor.  

    So who is behind Elizabeth Warren and why? Becuase she will fight for their pensions, for their financial security in retirement by fighting against cuts in Medicare and Social Security. And she’ll fight for the right to organize. Unions built the middle class.  And union are the only bulwark against corporate Americas endless thirst for profit (for example, the majority of earnings growth in the US from 2000-2007 came from cuts in salary and benefits.)  Unions provide bargaining power for the working man and training and safety and workplace input.

    Warren has endorsements from national labor leaders for her work on CFPB.  And labor helped to lobby for it.

    Saturday Morning October 13, 2012 the Democratic nominee for US Senate
    for Massachuetts Elizabeth Warren rallied in Malden with Massachusetts
    and National Labor leaders including

    Mary Kay Henry, President SEIU,

    Mike Langford, President Utility Workers Union of America,
    Randi
    Wiengarten, President American Federation of Teachers,
    Leo Gerard,
    President United Steelworkers,
    Steven A Tolman, President Mass AFL-CIO,

    Rich Trumka, President AFL-CIO and
    Lou Mandarini, President Greater
    Boston Labor Council.
    Angelina Cristiani Presdient, Mass Teacher Assoc

    • http://www.wbur.org/people/fthys Fred Thys

      Francis McManus,

      yes, but Martha Coakley also had the union endorsements. The key question is how much of the rank and file members will vote for Brown.

    • Mittgal

      I know what I am about to say is a conservative viewpoint on a liberal board, so I’m about to be slapped down….but….here goes.

      Unions strong-arm their membership into holding signs at standouts.  Unions intimidate their members, warning them that they’d better vote a certain way…Unions are outmoded and outdated.  My husband is a union member. And a closet Republican.  If he came out of the closet, they’d trump up charges and fire him.  So he’s an “Unenrolled” and can’t speak out.  He hates that his union dues go to candidates he loathes.

      Let me tell you something.  I donate money to Scott Brown.  I don’t expect anything back, like Trumpka or any other union boss.  The only thing Brown owes anyone is that he work hard at his job,   remain independent,  and try NOT to raise our taxes, because so many of us are hurting financially.

      Warren will do her best to raise taxes,  she wants to let illegal aliens have free reign.  I ask you union members, what will THAT do to your jobs prospects if all of the jobs go to illegals who don’t even pay taxes?  Oh, but she believes in giving their children free in-state tuition too.  Do YOUR kids get free in-state tuition?  Do out of state AMERICANS get free tuition?  How about free healthcare?  You mean you have to BUY a health plan?  Illegals don’t.  She doesn’t believe in any of that “sealing our borders” stuff and nonsense.  We are turning into a Sanctuary State and that’s just FINE with Elizabeth Warren.  She doesn’t believe in the Secure Communities Act either.  Nope.  Tell that to the family in Milford whose son was killed by an illegal alien. It would make people afraid of calling the police, she says.  Puhleeze.   There are other reasons to object to Warren.  Read The Boston Herald for an alternate viewpoint some time.

      The so-called “jobs bills” that Scott Brown voted against was also voted against by most Democrat Senators also.  They were bad bills.  As was the “Paycheck Fairness Act” that Warren so frequently throws in his face while saying he’s against women. I’d like to know:  If the “Paycheck Fairness Act” was such a good bill then why would THE MOST BI-PARTISAN SENATOR, SEN. SUSAN COLLINS OF MAINE vote against it??  Is she anti-woman too?  Nope.  Just another bad bill.

      Better yet, read both candidates’ websites.   And on Tuesday, Vote Brown.

      • Sinclair2

        The Boston Herald’s circulation and readership is sinking badly based on a recent report a few days ago.  People are giving up on this paper.  They can’t continue surviving with the B.S. stories they print. 

        Warren is against raising YOUR taxes.  She’s all for raising taxes of the wealthy.

        • Mittgal

          The Herald’s circulation can’t be worse than that of the Boston Globe.  The Globe almost closed from what I hear. Part of it is that most people don’t pick up a paper; they read it online or watch tv/cable news.  I see more liberal writers over at the Herald than conservative ones at The Globe; the Herald  at least tries to present both viewpoints. 

          Warren IS for raising taxes.  The wealthy, the “millionaires and billionaires” that she so fondly quotes do not have enough money to keep this nation running for very long, even if you taxed them 100%.  Then watch them change the definition of “wealthy”!   It will QUICKLY come to raising taxes on those who are, as she says being “hammered.”  BTW, many people who make over $250,000, Obama’s threshhold for higher taxation, are small business owners who create a large portion of the jobs in this country.  They often file their taxes as individuals because it’s easier.   Tax them higher and you will find fewer jobs.

          We don’t need trickle-down government.  And whenever you give government more money it inevitably becomes larger.  I stand for smaller government.  I stand with Scott Brown.

          • Sinclair2

            The herald’s circulation numbers were published and they dropped more than 10%.  Before the drop, their numbers were low.

            The globe’s numbers are up considerably.

            90% of small business owners earn less than $250K.

            You need to check your facts.

  • C.H.

    The PFFM can’t deliver 20 solid Warren votes from Boston Firefighters. The laborers union membership is tired of the bullying. The bullying by union leaders is a turnoff to the membership. They should think about the security of their own leadership positions after this Warren debacle. There is alot of talk out there. For the first time in a long time there is a strong undercurrent talking about the need for change in the union leadership. People who work for a living are not happy about the forced marches they are being bullied into. The big boys may have shot themselves in the foot this time. This Pickup doesn’t have a clue.

  • jellybean

    Warren and her invisible husband make $700,000 a year and she’s middle class? What is this kid smoking?

    • comment

       And Gail Huff and Republican Senator Scott Brown made more money. So who would you rather vote for, the person who has honestly represented herself or the guy who pretends to be a loving husband, a stand up guy for union workers, and a guy who understands and votes for women?

      P.S. If you don’t already know this one, there is no one definition of middle class. There are as many definitions of middle class as there are people in this country!

      • Sinclair2

        Based on attitude and values, Brown, Huff and their daughters are lower middle class.  Their demonstrated vanity and camera-ready superficial  lifestyle knocks them down from what they percieve to be middle class.  Looking good all of the time is not a redeeming value. 

    • Sinclair2

      She’s upper income and middle class.  Middle class is all about attitude and values, not income.

      • Mittgal

        When someone tells me to “turn around and talk to someone in line at the Cheese Shop….” about her she does not strike me as what you describe as middle class.   She’s certainly not – let’s agree – middle income either.

        So, what is she?  Sorry, I can only call someone who makes $700,000 (combined family income) a year rich.I’d like to turn around and talk about her to someone at the Cheese Shop, but I don’t know where one is.  I shop at Market Basket because I can afford to.

  • FOR5DOLLAR

    WARNING!!!!   PUBLIC BE AWARE……………SCOTT BROWN
    In The Lincoln Village Housing Project in Worcester Massachusetts, there flows a brook called “Poor Farm Brook 13″ a tributary brook to Poor Farm Brook, the brook was reported to be contaminated with raw sewage on or about January 09, 2012. The Massachusetts State Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the Worcester Department of Public Works, the Worcester City Manager, Public Safety Offices, Attorney General Martha Coakley, and SCOTT BROWN and others seem to think that the CHILDREN that cut through that brook going and coming home from school, playing in the contaminated brook and making hot chocolate in their make believe camps from the water in that brook is healthy, DPW Commissioner M.L says “they should not be in the brook in the first place… No warning signs, no cleanup, no Public Safety Issues here!!! The Department of Public Works (DPW) has declared a family of Raccoons live in the 36″ waterway and are defecating and sending their test high in the count of Fecal Bacteria and are hiding the actual dangers, however, the State Department of Environmental Protection Agency’s(DEP) testings January to April found detergents and brighteners present, this indicates Human Feces and also E-Coli was declared to be in the waters. One false Consent Order later and the DEP and Worcester Department of Sewer were sleeping in the same bed (so to speak), the DPW denies the fact that it is human origin and the CHILDREN are kept in harms way to this date. Senator Brown’s Office indicated an interest several months ago and has never returned a telephone call or email. So why should anyone vote for this derelict? I challenged the DPW Sewer Division’s Commissioners with doing a DNA test on the water to ensure that this is not human contamination…DENIED     [Every] City Official of Worcester in Massachusetts has heard my name, heard my cry for these helpless children and I have found the reason for sweeping this under the rug (so to speak), there was never an easement granted to the Lincoln Village Housing builders/owners, this means the City of Worcester is fully liable for the illnesses that may be on records as far back as 2006, a whopping 42,0000 count of fecal bacteria, when I asked the DPW to explain what was done when they discovered 42,000 colonies of fecal bacteria they said it must had been a bear crapping in the sewer line!!!!
    Don’t Vote for SCOTT BROWN he is in the approval of Government Law Breakers in Worcester. Google [Lincoln Village Raw Sewage, William] and read these articles.

    Scott Brown is NOT for the People

    Thank You

    May God Rest on your pillow at night and keep you safe.

    Bill C

  • FrancisMcManus

    After watching Republican Governors and Republican legislatures in over the last two years eviscerate public sector unions by outlawing collective bargaining, limiting pay increases to not more than cost of living, and revoking aspects of hard fought health insurance and pensions benefits in states across America including Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, New Hampshire, Maine, Arizona and Minnesota I’m stunned anyone in any working family would vote Republican. Stunned.  The same Republicans have been passing right-to-work for less law that kneecap  private sector unions. They want
    cheap labor. The downward pressure on wages is all around us.  Strong unions are the only way you can fight back. 

    I’ve seen Ed Kelly’s (President of Pro Firefighters of MA) presentation, “Our Future, Your Choice’  in which he reviews the issues and Scott Brown’s voting record. He points out Scott Brown’s bad votes for labor and the middle class.   Before Scott Brown went to Washington, he probably would not have made these bad votes but in Washington he did.  Unfortunately, the party he loves wants to end unions for two reasons, to get cheap labor and to hurt Democrats at election time.  Scott Brown has not shown the leadership it would take to move Republicans in the right  direction on labor and so his re-election brings us one step closer to a Republican majority that would be far worse for working
    families.  

    I listened to Harold Shaitberger, President IAFF, speak about these same issues, and Rich Trumka, Pres of AFLCIO, and Steve Tolman, Pres Mass AFLCIO, and Randi Weingarten, Pres AFT.  There is wide agreement that Republicans are out to hurt unions and convert defined benefit pensions to 401ks shifting retirement security risk from the employer to the individual.  They will fight against this. They will fight for SAFER grants. They will fight for Medicare and Social Security. Republicans will cut social security benefits and turn Medicare into a voucher program.

    Scott Brown has taken some decent votes but he’s not there for labor all the time, and not there for the middle class enough of the time. Warren will be.

    • Joserety

      Lie much?

    • Mittgal

      And we really need yet another lapdog of the unions? 

      Vote for someone who thinks for himself;  Vote Brown.

    • FrancisMcManus

      The Republican party has been waging  jihad against unions as a point of emphasis since 2010 for two reasons;

      - to drive down the cost of labor which hurts  middle class families and increases business profit.

      - to weaken union support for Democrats who are willing to stand up to Republican policy that harms middle class citizens.

      When you look at the bigger picture, you see that almost all of the productivity gains that are realized in increased profit flow to top income earners. Very little  flows to working people.  Thirty years ago, workers shared in gains, now they do not. 

      Even in the public sector, Republican Gov Walker’s controversial budget repair bill revoked the right to bargain, and limited public sector worker pay increase to not excess cost of living.  Merit pay increase was outlawed.  This law was struck down in court as unconstitutional. Ohio’s Republican Governor Kasich had his  anti-union, anti-middle class bill was struck down by popular referendum.  Working people on the front lines know that Republicans are hurting their families for political gain.

  • Sinclair2

    Being rich does not mean upper class in sociological terms.  Think Donald Trump and lower class for example.  Bill Gates is upper class.  (attitude & values)

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