Protesting Governor Deval Patrick’s changes to collective bargaining agreements, the introduction of civilian flaggers at traffic sites, and cuts in the Quinn Bill, Massachusetts police officers lined the streets of Plymouth and Chelmsford last week, in one instance causing the Governor to cancel an annual meeting with the AFL-CIO.
In a letter to AFL-CIO president Robert Haynes, Patrick informed the group of his decision not to attend. “I am now advised that police unions have organized a protest of our decision to use civilian flaggers on state construction sites and that the attendees will honor the protest as though it were a picket line, which means that if I come, there will be no one in the hall to engage,’’ Patrick said. “Under the circumstances, I see no value in attending and will respectfully decline the invitation.
“Despite whatever differences we may have, you and your colleagues ought to know that my commitment to economic and social justice runs deep, is the tie that binds us, and has a longer history than any of my recent predecessors. If that is still the central focus of leadership of the labor movement in Massachusetts, my door remains open to you.’’
In a statement made before the planned meeting, Thomas Nee, the President of the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association and President of the 300,000-member National Association of Police Organizations said “The Governor needs to be held accountable to these families. He has disgracefully attacked the laws governing the collective bargaining rights and benefits of these police officers, as well as all organized labor, across the state. By doing so he has impacted their families and their quality of life. These are the same men and women sworn to uphold the law and protect the public. Governor Patrick is now using these dedicated public servants as props in his ill-advised strategy for his re-election. It is my duty as a labor leader to call on the family of labor and direct their attention to Patrick’s anti-labor attacks. He promised transparency but has worked in the backrooms to deliver the worst leadership for working men and women we have seen in this generation.”
When it was announced that the Governor would be cancelling his appearance at the meeting, Nee said “One line: Shame on him for not being accountable.’’
Two days after Patrick was a no-show at the AFL-CIO conference, he was met with more police protests outside a coffee shop in Chelmsford. Patrick was confronted by members of the New England Police Benevolent Association wearing signs reading “Public Safety at Risk” and “Dump Deval.” The officers told the governor they object to his proposal to cut funding for the Quinn Bill and his support for civilian flagmen.
According to an article in the Lowell Sun, Patrick stated that he hears their concerns.