2.3 min readBy Published On: November 5th, 2013Categories: News9 Comments on When did unions become the bad guy?

An Editorial

When did we start to vilify unions?  Last time I checked, unions are what built this city.  My dad is a retried State trooper.  My brother is a sergeant on the Boston police.  My sister is a Boston public school teacher.  I am also married to a Boston firefighter.  When I grew up here in South Boston, I lived next door to electricians, down the street from laborers and on the same block as members of the carmen’s union.  It was a working class town and at the moment is still a working-class town. Being middle-class is not an easy task living in the city.  The Boston public school system is sub-par, the taxes are high, real estate prices are at a premium and parking in South Boston has reached crisis mode.  But we choose to stay because we love this city.

During the 1970’s, with the onset of forced busing, many families moved to the suburbs because the school situation was so dismal and life in many neighborhoods was less than ideal, but many working families chose to stay and raise families.  Over the past three decades, we’ve seen our neighborhoods grow, change and evolve into the thriving city that Boston is.  I am a proud member of a working class family that want to stay living in this city. My husband and I sometimes struggle to pay tuition, pay our mortgage, and make ends meet – like so many other working families. We feel the pressure that we are being squeezed out but we always manage to hang on. 

We especially feel this pressure during election season when people rush to judgment and deem unions as a “machine” or “corrupt”.   Don’t forget it is not just the “machine” that makes up the union – it is also your neighbors taking out their trash and moms picking up at school.   It’s the firefighter rushing into a burning building.  It’s the police that show up to a shooting in your neighborhood.  It is the EMS worker that helps your father after he suffered a heart attack.   It is the teacher who helps your child excel.  It is the nurse who comforts you and puts you at ease. Unions fight for a fair wage and a decent working environment so we can keep working families in our city.  When you vilify unions, you vilify the people who make the strong fiber of our communities – the fiber of Boston. 

Tuesday is Election Day.  Be informed.  Get involved and vote.

Maureen Dahill, Editor of Caught in Southie, mother of three, and proud to be married to a Boston Firefighter, Local 718. 


  1. Anonymous November 5, 2013 at 2:12 am

    well said


  2. Rich November 5, 2013 at 4:30 am
    Maureen……You ever hear of the Labor Board on Staniford St? Unfortunatly I have, and it wasn’t because my Union was the “GOOD GUY”!
  3. Tim thorman November 5, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    Unions had their time.  They became the bad guys when the leadership became corrupt.  They don’t allow people who want to work without unions to do so.  They drive up the cost of health care with the Cadillac plans at the expense of others.They support liberal government with their PACs and force members to vote against their conscience.  Union dues are used to support liberal causes which may not be the way members want their money to be used.  Violent threats are made against those who dare to defy them.  Look at the threats and calumny hurled against the Wisconsin governor.  Unions had their time, and they did a lot of good in early 20th century America.  But they’ve turned into a monster, and they need to go.


  4. Fred November 5, 2013 at 4:49 pm
    All unions were created through violence and forced coersion, especially in Boston during the early 20th century. It was the only way to get everyone to follow the same path to fight for the rights of workers. This culture of forced coersion still prevails within unions today. Though ugly, it often times is necessary. But, please don’t make unions out to be some happy-go-lucky club that makes everyone’s life peachy. It’s a tough and dirty, but necessary, part of our city’s politics.
  5. John Mullins November 5, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    Unions didn’t build this city, people built this city. By the time unions emerged in the early 20th century, most of Boston’s infrastructure was in place. Unions have played an important role in human rights, but “the last time I checked” we didn’t have 12-hour working days and 13 year-olds working the night shift. There are now laws in place that prevent many of the abuses that unions were formed to combat. Most reasonable people support some kind of organized labor. What people are against, I think, are unskilled laborers who make more than college graduates; unemployable people who can’t get fired; cops who never stop complaining. The only thing about Southie that’s working-class is it’s history, otherwise it seems like just another gentrified paradise for 20-somethings. 

  6. Anonymous November 5, 2013 at 5:54 pm

    Thanks for including the EMTs! 

  7. Ellie November 5, 2013 at 11:49 pm

    Unions are not bad……  People are.  The negative aspect of any grouping are far outweighed by the good of the outstanding Unions that keep us safe, warm, take our waste so as not to get rodents.  There are the emts, the trolley and bus drivers, the court personnel, the police and firemen and so on…..   I agree there are some negative things with some people, but they would be that way outside of Unions.  Give us Union personnel a break. Finally! Come on people.

    A retired Local 6 employee

  8. south boston resident November 8, 2013 at 5:35 pm

    Union workers don’t care what’s good for the neighborhood  –  as long as they get the work.

    Union workers have physically threatened local residents that oppose certain developments.

    There are police officers retireing after making 250,000 a year.

    Other than that, I guess you can say unions are a good thing.

  9. Maureen Dahill November 9, 2013 at 1:18 am

    The average police officer does not make $250,000.  They make less than $100,000.  They risk their lives everyday.  You are doing a lot of genralizing.  Union workers don’t care, unions workers have physically threatened local residents?  Really?  You’ve gotta do better than that.  Not all union workers are thugs.  They are hardworking people that deserve respect. 


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