On Springfield

Labor Leader Brown Steps Down

It’s hard for me to imagine the Pioneer Valley Central Labor Council without Rick Brown; he’s been the president of the group as long as I’ve been covering the Valley. But I better get used to it: last week, the Council announced that Brown was stepping down from his position after 17 years.

A rather colorful press release from the PVCLC outlined some of the high points of Brown’s tenure, which, it said, has “left an indelible mark on Greater Springfield’s labor movement.” The list includes Brown’s work on numerous Democratic campaigns, from helping John Kerry defeat Bill Weld in the 1996 Senate race to, more recently, “taking Ted Kennedy’s former seat away from the wily Republican Senator Scott Brown and returning it to a rightful heir Democratic Senator elect Elizabeth Warren.” (Side note: I’m excited about Warren’s election, too, but really: “rightful heir”?)

Also noted: Brown’s work as a founding member of the Pioneer Valley Project and with Western Mass. Jobs With Justice; his involvement in numerous community assistance projects; and his role in getting passed “Union City” resolutions in Springfield and Holyoke and in strengthening the local labor movement (according to the release, union membership in the PVCLC jurisdiction is double the national average).

While Brown is stepping down from the labor council presidency, he’s not exactly stepping away from the work he’s been doing for so long. He’ll remain secretary/treasure of United Food & Commercial Workers Local 1459 as well as vice president of the Mass. AFL-CIO.

On Wednesday, PVCLC members elected the fabulously named Fiore Grassetti of Iron Workers Local 7 as their new president.

© 2014 The Valley Advocate