Teamsters threaten labor-state lawmakers

The Teamsters union warned state legislators in February that there would be a price to pay to pay if they voted against casinos. The union is following up on that threat, sending many of those state legislators a sharply worded letter that warns it will solicit candidates to run against them in this fall's election.

Sean M. O'Brien, president of Teamsters Local Union No. 25 in Boston, told state legislators he was "writing to express my total displeasure" with their vote against Gov. Deval Patrick's proposal for three casinos.

"Although we may not be 100 percent successful, I believe we will win some of the seats and make the rest spend money to protect their seats," Mr. O'Brien wrote in a letter to legislators dated March 25.

Mr. O'Brien did not return a call requesting information on whether the union would try to field candidates in Southeastern Massachusetts. Candidates have until April 29 to turn in their nomination papers for this year's elections.

The Teamsters letter was also sent to House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi, who led the 108 to 46 House defeat of the casino bill last month.

Jane Lane, a spokeswoman for Rep. DiMasi's political committee, responded in a written statement.

"For many years, members of the House of Representatives have championed the causes of union and working families," she said.

She noted the House's support for film tax credits, an increase in the minimum wage and parental leave legislation.

"We have worked to protect the rights of labor and will continue to focus on issues that will have a truly positive impact on unions and working families throughout the commonwealth," Ms. Lane said. "As we continue to stand with organized labor on meaningful initiatives, we will call on labor to stand with the members of the House."

The Massachusetts AFL-CIO has made casinos one of the criteria for endorsements, but not the only factor.

Rep. Michael Rodrigues, D-Westport, who opposed casinos from the start, has worked as a committee chair on many labor issues. He did not receive the letter.

"I can't think of anyone who has been more friendly to labor over my 12 years in office than the Massachusetts Legislature," Rep. Rodrigues said. "It's a typical 'What have you done for me lately?' "

Labor unions fought hard for Gov. Patrick's proposal, even rallying with the governor on Boston Common the day of the vote.

"Teamsters Local 25 will always believe that the governor's plan would have benefited our membership," Mr. O'Brien wrote.

"There are fewer and fewer job opportunities in the commonwealth of Massachusetts that do not require a college education. We believe casinos would have helped to address this economic problem."


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