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Mayor Walsh won't back down

Former Building Trades Council Leader won't give in to Trump's bullying tactics

Kris LaGrange's picture
Jan 26, 2017

Executive orders coming out of Washington have dominated news reporting, whether the news be fake, mainstream or alternative. All press surrounding these orders, and the responses of the White House spin doctors have us all frustrated and/or confused. Yesterday, Trump issued a number of creeds geared towards preventing immigration into the United States.  One such order was to penalize so called sanctuary cities by taking away their federal funding. In Boston, former Building Trades Council Leader Mayor Marty Walsh is standing up to hate and pledged to protect the diverse residents of Beantown.

A sanctuary city is a city that has adopted a policy of protecting undocumented immigrants by not prosecuting them for violating federal immigration laws in the country in which they are now living illegally. This means that cities won’t turn people over to federal immigration officials unless the said person has a warrant for their arrest and they are charged with a violent crime.  Some such cities include Boston, New York and Los Angeles. These cities have both high union density, a high rate of higher educations and robust economies. These cities are also not located in Right to Work states which most commonly possess nation leading percentages of persons living in poverty and abnormally large numbers of workers who die on the job.

After Trump announced sanctions on these cities, many mayors held press conferences and rallies to let Trump know that they will not back down and they will continue to protect their residents.  In Boston Mayor Walsh, the former President of Laborers Local 223 and the Boston Building Trades Council, held a defiant press conference.  “We will not back down from our values that make us who we are as a city. We will fight for our residents, whether immigrant or not, and provide the best quality of life for all Bostonians. I will use all of my power within lawful means to protect all Boston residents -- even if that means using City Hall itself as a last resort,” said Walsh. Mayor Walsh’s statement was one of the strongest coming from a mayor, but that shouldn’t be surprising coming from his background as a building trades labor leader. Walsh made these comments a day after Trump orchestrated a publicity centered meeting with a few union leaders of his choosing at the White House, dangling jobs in a front to paint himself as a friend to organized labor. This play won over some, but most in the union movement are still not convinced that Trump’s intentions are good.

What Trump’s executive order does is turn local police, fire and government employees into federal immigration agents.  Part of the reason that cities like Boston don’t want to do this is because immigrant communities then become fearful of working with the police, fearing that they will be handed over to immigration. As a labor leader, your job is to stand up for every one of your members, regardless of skin color or country of origin.  It seems that Walsh has brought that same philosophy to running the City of Boston.  Walsh is not willing to give up his values and the values of his city to cow tow to Trump’s bullying theatrics.

The benefit of a sanctuary city is that people do not have to fear working with the police because of their status.  A report by Tom Wong, a professor at University of California, San Diego, found that sanctuary cities and counties had lower crime, higher median incomes, less poverty, lower rates of reliance on public assistance and a higher labor participation rate. These counties and cities saw a lower unemployment rate as well.  Beyond these facts, which will get lost in modern media, this was the right thing for Mayor Walsh to do. This move is also the right financial move for the city of 667,000 as well. 

The move by Mayor Walsh to push back on another dismal Executive Order from Trump is another good example of the diversity of the union movement. While some leaders, and the members who follow them, are hopeful optimist that this nation will be “Great Again,” others see the writing on the wall as all the collective progress that the union movement has made in the last eight years is quickly being eroded by the simple stroke of an ego-maniacs pen. UCOMM gives credit to Walsh, and others like him, but we also give credit to unions who are working to extend the olive branch to Trump. We will only survive as a movement if we are not only diverse in issues, but diverse in approach as well.

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