Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Unions tried to bully us tonight....shame on them.

I'm not going to say much now, because I've got some investigating to do, but tonight when we biomass opponents turned up at the air permit hearing for Palmer Renewable Energy's incinerator, we were greeted by an astounding sight-- about 300 members of various building trade unions, including some student groups, with matching tee-shirts, slick posters, stickers and two canopies set up to keep out of the rain.  At first I had to laugh, because we had clearly been outmaneuvered, and I have some sympathy....but it didn't last long.

I talked to some of the union folks and they wouldn't tell the truth about where they came from or what city they lived in.  I asked  some of them what they knew about biomass and it wasn't much-- might have come right our of a  Dick and Jane primer.  But it was obvious they'd been fed their soundbites.

Their behavior in the Duggan Middle School auditorium was appalling.  They actually booed every anti-biomass speaker, including an elderly woman, a pediatrician who spoke about the kids with asthma he treated, a respiratory therapist, an elderly man...they went on and on.  There were a number of children with asthma who had volunteered to come to the press conference we held, and they were little boy's eyes brimmed with tears.

I will tell you that my first reaction was that you couldn't pay me enough for me to ever show up at another pro-union rally..  Organized labor sure didn't make any friends tonight with their ignorant and bullying behavior.  John Bennett from Mass Senior Action reminded me that  the building trades didn't even show up for pro-union rallies.  But it wasn't just who was there from the unions, but also who wasn't there.  If other unions disapprove of their trade union brothers, they sure keep quiet about it.

Then suddenly almost all of them were gone-- whisked away on the buses they came in on?

Who paid for the tee-shirts?  Who paid for the signs?.  Is it true that the union apprentices were told that if they didn't show up for the hearing, not to bother coming back?

I was proud of our people, who were knowledgeable and well-prepared, and didn't let themselves be intimidated.

And to the union members, I can only say...shame on you.  Shame on you. Print Friendly and PDF


cuerda said...

That's terrible. I hope you get a response from this post from our union friends.

Anonymous said...

I was at the meeting, am also a proud union member and am totally opposed to this project . I was shocked to see this group there , forming what appeared to be a picket line that I had to cross to enter the meeting . I wonder why none were at any of the five previous meetings I attended to express their opposition?
I agree they were bought and paid for by Callahan and am a little ashamed of their behavior because it makes all union members look bad .
I do have a modicum of sympathy because of the high unemployment rate, the youth of many of those union memebers who are just looking for honest work , etc. but at what cost to our collective health?
We can do a lot better with our tax dollars than to make Callahan a richer man than he is .

Anonymous said...

Oops, mean to say in the above post that I wondered why these union people were not at prior meetings to express FAVORING this palnt . I guess I am just so accustomed to using the word opposition to express my opinion ( and that of any rational person, I should think) that it just slipped out.

D.O. said...

Just sent this note to Tim Carpenter of Progressive Dems:

Since there was no Q & A at the Smith event yesterday and since John Nichols never answered my email with regard to my concerns, I thought I'd drop you a note.

As you can see from Arise's blog here:
union members (identified as being in the iron workers and carpenters unions) supporting a proposed biomass incinerator in Springfield used some rather ugly tactics at a hearing last week.
As a worker myself, and as an activist who is inspired by the events in Madison and elsewhere (we attended all the union sponsored demonstrations here in the Valley in the wake of Madison), I find it truly disturbing that some unions seem so tone deaf to the real meaning of solidarity. I saw many activists who work on environmental issues at recent union events, but the door apparently doesn't swing both ways. I've experienced this same lopsided dynamic over the years, organizing around the Indian Point nuke in NY back in the '70s and in various other environmental campaigns over the years. I'm hoping in your work with John Nichols and others you might address this situation in the future. If we are to have a strong, growing movement, as we all hope, we need to support each others work, or at the very least, to be respectful of each others positions.

in solidarity,

Don Ogden, producer/co-host
The Enviro Show