Unions respond to threats to Springfield

Union leaders representing thousands of Springfield municipal employees today blasted as "outrageous" threats reported by Eric Kriss, Gov. Mitt Romney's Secretary of Administration and Finance, to further undermine the fiscal condition of Springfield and rescind its $52 million loan from the state.  They also sharply condemned any attempt to allow a Kriss-appointed arbitrator to unilaterally impose labor contract settlements.

The threats were reported in the June 10 edition of the Springfield Republican. 

The following statement was issued jointly by Catherine A. Boudreau, president, Massachusetts Teachers Association; Robert Haynes, president, Massachusetts AFL-CIO; and Kathleen Kelley, president, Massachusetts Federation of Teachers.

Secretary Kriss' outrageous proposals signal nothing less than Governor Romney's abandonment of Springfield and its citizens in the midst of a major fiscal crisis. Rather than committing his administration to the hard work of bringing people together in a spirit of cooperation and compromise, the governor is once again demonstrating the arrogance of power.

Our organizations are dedicated to restoring Springfield's fiscal health and building a bridge to prosperity for the citizens of Massachusetts' third-largest city. This involves all of us -- every employee and every resident. If we work together, we can create a community that is filled with promise and hope, not only for adults, but for the 27,000 children who depend on us to open the doors to educational opportunity in the city's public schools.

Romney's labor proposal goes beyond bad-faith bargaining and is an assault on the collective bargaining process itself.  It is the crudest form of union-busting and is an attack on the rights of thousands of city workers. It is certain to accelerate the already devastating exodus of teachers and other valued employees from the Springfield Public Schools. Romney's proposal also comes at a time when the city's unions and management are engaged in mediation efforts and other potentially promising activities.

We call upon the Legislature to reject the governor's proposals -- and reject them soundly -- to send a loud and clear message to the people of Springfield that they do not stand alone in their struggle to ensure a brighter future for themselves, their children and their city.