Letter to the Editor: Writer Won’t be Intimidated by Pro-Union Threat

0 August 4, 2010  School Construction, State & Local Construction, Uncategorized

In a July 27 letter to the editor written by Mary Alford of Bristol, CT and published by the Bristol Press, Ms. Alford describes her experience testifying against Big Labor and their effort to persuade local officials to require wasteful and discriminatory project labor agreements on local school construction projects.

Here is an excerpt from Ms. Alford’s letter (“Writer Won’t be Intimidated by Pro-Union Threat,” 7/27/10), with our emphasis added:

The presentations [for and against PLAs} given by the trade unions and the Connecticut chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors were informative and well done except for one thing. The trade union presentation never actually explained what a PLA is. We saw pictures of and heard about successful PLA projects and we heard a lot about what unions do but never got the details about PLAs. Thankfully, Lelah Campo from the Connecticut chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors supplied that pertinent information.

At the end of the day, both committees voted overwhelmingly against approving a PLA.

My congratulations to these hardworking volunteers for voting to keep the projects as open as a prevailing-wage project can be and making it possible for both union and merit tradesmen and women to have a chance to work in Bristol for Bristol; for being committed to getting the best possible price when spending the taxpayers’ money; and for saying to everyone that they believe in fairness to all.

But I must relay a not-so-nice incident from last night. As I was walking out of the Forestville School Committee meeting after the vote, and making my way through the crowd of union workers and union leaders near the door, someone — I don’t know who because he made sure I couldn’t turn my head to see him — whispered these words to me: “Just think about how hard the unions are going to work against you in your next campaign.”

To put that comment in perspective so that it makes some sense, some may remember that I ran for mayor last year and, at last night’s meeting, spoke against the PLA before the West Side School Committee.

So, was it a union member? A union leader? Does it matter? I don’t know, but comments like that — some might even say threats — are intended to intimidate, frighten and otherwise make someone think twice about disagreeing with the unions out loud. Whoever it was demonstrated the reputation of unions as a bunch of bullies and thugs, only interested in themselves — and you had better not cross them, by God, or else.

Whether or not I ever choose to run for office again is not the point, and not important. What is important is that somebody is comfortable with using threats and intimidation to silence any and all opposition or as a payback tactic for those who do oppose them.

Funny how much this kind of thing resembles the practices of the bosses of the past who unions are so proud to tell you they fought until workplaces were safe and wages were “fair.”

Not so funny is the fact that this kind of thing reflects back on the entire rank and file, making them “guilty by association.” Call me naïve, but I do not believe, nor will you ever convince me, that the majority of hard-working union members approve of such tactics. They don’t.

To the man who decided it was okay to attempt to intimidate me, politically or otherwise, nice try, buddy. But I don’t scare that easily and I am completely unimpressed by cowards.

Mary Alford


Ms. Alford makes two very important points in her letter.  The first is obvious.  Threatening behavior with the intent to intimidate others is unacceptable.  If Ms. Alford’s account is true, and there is no reason to believe it is not, then this is a clear case of union cronies threatening a concerned citizen and past candidate for public office.  There is no place for this type of behavior in public debates.

The other important point is that in this case – as with many others – Big Labor is short on details when it comes to the actual provisions of PLAs.  Labor bosses show up at public meetings like this, say that PLAs will do everything short of guarantee world peace and then expect public officials to accept these claims as fact.

The true intent of these agreements starts to become clear when public officials take the time to examine a typical PLA.  Please visit our earlier post, “Project Labor Agreement Basics: What is a PLA,” to see what we mean.

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