Legislative Conference Ignites Delegates in Final Weeks Before Election 09/24/2012

Council 93 leaders and activists from across the four-state region gathered in Danvers, MA this past weekend for the Council’s 16th Biennial Legislative Conference. 

Speaking at his first legislative conference as Council 93 President, Charlie Owen opened the three-day event by welcoming delegates back to Danvers and expressing optimism about the new leadership on the Council 93 Executive Board. “I know I speak for all of us when I say we look forward to leading our union towards a brighter and stronger future, a future of solidarity, a future of better and more effective representation for every local in our four-state region, and a future of opportunity for more of our members to become actively involved in maintaining and building the strength of our union,” Owen said.

Owen then introduced the Council’s newly-appointed Executive Director Frank Moroney who he called “a friend and a driving force behind the Council for many years.  Our union is the first thing on Frank’s mind when he wakes up in the morning and the last thing he thinks of before he goes to sleep at night,” Owen told delegates. 

In his remarks from the podium, Moroney reminded the delegates to stay focused on the struggles they face but also encouraged them to celebrate and draw strength from the battles their union has won. “All too often, we become so focused on the problems ahead that we forget to take time to remember and talk about the progress we have made,” Moroney said. “And I think it’s important to do that because we need to remember – especially in times like these - that we are still a strong and powerful force.  And more importantly, we can use the lessons learned from past fights to make us stronger and better in the future.”

Day two of the conference featured an inspiring speech by AFSCME International President Lee Saunders who urged delegates to do their very best in the final weeks before the November 6 election to mobilize members to support labor-friendly candidates seeking election to state and federal office.  Calling the election “the most important in our lifetime” Saunders noted that the individuals we elect will shape the future of our union and the labor movement for many years to come.

In addition to the dynamic speech by President Saunders, the conference also featured an appearance by Massachusetts Congressman John F. Tierney, who is seeking re-election in state’s 6th Congressional District. Joseph P. Kennedy III, the Democratic Party’s nominee to fill the seat being vacated by retiring Congressman Barney Frank in the Massachusetts 4th Congressional District, also spoke to delegates at the convention. The son of former Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy II and the grandson of former U.S. Senator and U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, Joe is making his first run at elective office.  The past two years have marked the first time in 46 years that a member of the Kennedy family has not served in elective office in Washington, DC. 

In addition to Tierney and Kennedy, Massachusetts AFL-CIO President Steve Tolman and Vermont AFL-CIO President Ben Johnson also addressed the delegates on the importance of being active in the upcoming elections.

Jim Durkin, from the Council 93 Legislative and Political Action department provided delegates with an overview of some important Council 93 victories over the past year including the successful fight to stop the closure of Taunton State Hospital and an effective legislative and media campaign to reduce the number of assaults on staff by juveniles and young adults in the custody of the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services.

Following the general sessions in the convention hall, delegates learned new skills and strategies through a variety of workshops including media relations, social networking and other important topics. The conference also featured two caucuses, one for public safety workers and the other for the younger generation of members involved in the union’s New Wave Initiative.