Throughout our history, the labor movement has won advances that have transformed the lives of working people in America, from enacting overtime and wage laws to ending child labor to passing Social Security. Here in Massachusetts, the labor movement’s powerful legislative advocacy has helped create one of the most comprehensive social safety nets in the country, including strong worker protections in the event of job loss or injury. Today, we focus our legislative efforts on protecting and expanding past gains while creating the new high-road economy of tomorrow—an economy centered on developing workers’ skills, rewarding productivity, and creating good, family- sustaining jobs.
Through our legislative program:
- We maximize the clout of every local union and union member across the state. Our legislative advocacy reach is wide; we can potentially mobilize 750 unions and a pro-worker coalition of more than 1 million voters, including union members, retirees, their families, and community allies. We know from experience that, when working people stand together across industries and sectors, we send a powerful message to lawmakers.
- We fight for state and federal laws and regulations that protect and benefit working families. With input from members, affiliates, and leadership, we pursue legislative priorities centered on creating good jobs with living wages, decent benefits, paid leave, safe workplaces, and collective bargaining rights. We also make sure that economic development initiatives are done the right way, with an emphasis on how Massachusetts workers will benefit from the economic opportunities developed across the state.
- We work intensively with state legislators and the executive branch to educate them on the need for pro-worker laws and policies. We meet regularly with state elected officials, especially House and Senate leaders and key officials in the executive branch. We alert legislators on labor’s stance on critical “Labor Votes,” and we testify at legislative and regulatory hearings on legislation and policy affecting working families.
- We activate our grassroots network of union members to advocate for key legislation. The most effective legislative advocates are the men and women whose day-to-day lives are affected by the decisions of their elected representatives. When necessary, we can mobilize working families in the home districts of every state representative and senator, employing phone banks, lobby days, and letter-writing campaigns. Increasingly, we use the Internet for legislative mobilization, having quadrupled our e-activist network in a short period of time. And our Weekly Labor Reader e-newsletter keeps activists up to date on the latest legislative developments.
- We help labor leaders and union members gain seats on state boards, commissions, and councils, so that working families are represented in these vital policy making bodies. We have won labor seats on numerous industry and public sector boards and commissions, including those that regulate and make policy for the health insurance industry, Massport, and higher education. We have also won seats for labor on state and regional workforce investment boards, the Industrial Accident Board, and the state Workers’ Compensation Advisory Council, among countless others.
- We enlist a wide range of allies in labor’s cause. We create powerful legislative coalitions with pro-worker allies, including human rights groups such as the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, faith-based organizations, and community groups.
- We help win worker-friendly ordinances and policies at the municipal level. We work closely with Central Labor Councils (labor’s important regional bodies) to win pro-worker municipal laws and regulations, including living wage and responsible employer ordinances.