6. Labor's Role

People think of Dan as a successful CEO, but fewer know that after college, he was a community organizer along Blue Hill Avenue in Boston for a group called The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. He also became a union organizer, trying to organize both manufacturing and fast-food restaurants in Greater Boston. Those experiences reinforced his strong belief in the role of organized labor to champion and represent working people.

Today, Cape Air is in large part owned by employees through its Employee Stock Ownership Plan (known as an ESOP) created in 1996. In addition, pilots at Cape Air are represented by the Teamsters Union.

In his first term in the State Senate, as co-Chair of the Labor and Workforce Development Committee, Dan became a leading advocate for issues such as guaranteed earned sick leave and raising the minimum wage. His strong support from organized labor in his first run for office two years ago has strengthened.

That said, Dan has taken some positions that have not been aligned with union advocacy, notably his opposition to casino gambling in the Commonwealth. The short-term construction jobs, in his opinion, are not sufficient to offset the long-term negative impacts of a casino economy: low-wage employment, addiction and social impact, no real opportunity to advance and build a stronger middle class, no tangible improvements by way of better education or infrastructure, casino profits flowing out of our communities.

Big picture, however, the key conversation is about how to expand labor’s role. As a student of labor history as well as both an organizer and a CEO, Dan believes that there is a direct correlation between the decline of the middle class and the decline of strong union representation.

Wages and working conditions will always remain core issues, but labor’s focus must continue to broaden. Labor should be at the table when public policy is defined, and labor should be included in corporate governance as well. Inclusive process, collective bargaining extended, leads not just to better communication, but better results. This is an essential component of what it means to build our economy from the middle out.