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Union dispute may be behind stealth attack

A bill allowing ``gate shows" to move from the Bayside Exposition Center to the South Boston convention center has come under attack at the last minute from a stealthy, high-tech campaign.

And it may have something to do with a long-running dispute between Boston Convention & Exhibition Center officials and a Dorchester electricians union.

An unknown number of Boston residents has received prerecorded phone calls in the past three days complaining about a provision of the bill that earmarks funds from future BCEC gate shows for a new South Boston Community Development Foundation . The bill would guarantee $1 per ticket sold, plus $25,000 to $50,000 per show, for the foundation, which is controlled by neighborhood political and civic leaders.

A female speaker on the call noted that the $800 million center ``was built with all of our taxpayers' dollars. Why is South Boston the only neighborhood to receive special consideration? Don't all of Boston's neighborhoods deserve equal benefit?"

Referring to James E. Rooney , the executive director of the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority , which runs the BCEC, the speaker urged listeners to ``ask Jimmy Rooney for your neighborhood's piece of South Boston's windfall." It also directed recipients to a website,, for more information.

The site listed no sponsors. And late last night the address was changed so that it no longer took visitors to the website but instead to the state government's homepage.

``We are not going to comment on an anonymous website," said Bridget Perry , a convention authority spokeswoman.

Charles Manning , a spokesman for Dorchester's Bayside Exposition Center, which has opposed the bill, said no one at Bayside had anything to do with the site.

But may have been connected to Local 103 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers because some items on the site linked to the union's Web address,

Local 103 business manager Michael Monahan and state Senator Jack Hart , a South Boston Democrat and sponsor of the bill, did not return calls seeking comment.

It couldn't be determined why Local 103 would be involved, but there has been a long-running dispute between the two-year-old MCCA and the union. The group unsuccessfully sought to be the union local representing electricians at the 500,000-square-foot convention hall. Local 3 of the National Conference of Firemen & Oilers , a Service Employees International Union affiliate, represents BCEC electricians.

The bill is on Governor Mitt Romney's desk. A Romney spokesman had no comment on whether the governor would sign the bill.

Peter J. Howe can be reached at Hiawatha Bray of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

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