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News :: Labor
No Contracts, No Peace!: Thousands of Angry Workers Turn Out To Heckle Boston Mayor
14 Jan 2004
Upwards of 5,000 workers braved the cold temperatures to embarrass the mayor on the night of his most important speech of the year in protest of the unions' protracted contract dispute with the city. Many union leaders promised that this demonstration was a small taste of the potential disruption that is expected to take place during the Democratic National Convention if the city does not meet the union's demands.
No Contracts, No Peace:
Thousands of Angry Workers Turn Out To Heckle Boston Mayor

Disassociated Press
January 14, 2004

Boston - Protected by a heavy police guard, Mayor Thomas M. Menino was quickly shuttled by SUV through a gauntlet of angry workers that stretched three full blocks along Berkeley Street (held back by double-reinforced police barricades), on route to deliver his 'State of the City' address at John Hancock Hall. The mayor was heckled as he entered the hall with frenzied chants of "Shame On You!"

Upwards of 5,000 workers braved the cold temperatures to embarrass the mayor on the night of his most important speech of the year in protest of the unions' protracted contract dispute with the city. Many union leaders promised that this demonstration was a small taste of the potential disruption that is expected to take place during the Democratic National Convention if the city does not meet the union's demands.

Union leaders have suggested that Menino is refusing to negotiate contracts so he can spend the city's estimated $400 million in surplus revenue on this summer's convention. Many people carried signs, which read "Our Raises Are Paying For Tom's Party".

Thomas J. Nee, president of the patrolmen's association, said the mayor is focused on using city resources for the convention's "five days of fun," for "the sole purpose of building his legacy and making himself a star on the national stage."

Protesters shouting "No contracts, no peace!" broke into a chant of "No contracts, no convention!"

"After tonight, the day of reckoning is coming," said Lou Mandarini, president of the Greater Boston Labor Council, to roaring applause. "There will be no work done on this convention until he negotiates fairly and treats us right."

The thousands of union members -- including teachers, firefighters, police, and mechanics -- who surrounded the building waved signs, chanted, hollered, and spit at politicians and assorted dignitaries who crossed the pickets. At one point during the evening, dozens of anarchists and rank-and-file members of the Boston Teachers Union attempted to block the entrance of the security perimeter, only to be shoved back behind the barricades by police. No arrests were made.

The crowd erupted in anger when well-known dignitaries and politicians walked in, such as state Treasurer Tim Cahill, a Democrat, upon whom union members rained insults. Other officials included Governor Mitt Romney, Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey, Senate President Robert E. Travaglini, and Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly. None of the 13 city councilors, who are in solidarity with the protesting workers, attended the speech.

When Janice Loux, president of the Hotel, Restaurant, Institutional Employees and Bartenders Union Local 26, walked into the hall, a protester screamed "We'll see you in hell!" Loux was the sole city union leader to support Menino by attending the speech.

The angry scene outside was reminiscent of Menino's 2001 address, when the mayor was escorted into the hall by police as more than 2,000 firefighters picketed outside, demanding a fair contract. This year, however, 32 unions representing about 17,000 municipal workers are without contracts.

This work is in the public domain