Polticial Circuit

With speech in Wisconsin, Patrick will wade further into union battle

March 27, 2011

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Governor Deval Patrick, making another out-of-state political trip, will delve further into the Wisconsin union fray with a speech to the state’s embattled Democrats, at the party’s annual dinner April 30.

The announcement for the event declares: “The featured speaker will be Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick who, unlike Walker, has used negotiation and compromise as a way to solve his state’s budget challenges, without putting education, health and infrastructure at risk.’’

Here in Massachusetts, the governor’s complex relationship with organized labor continues to evolve. Patrick has courted unions but boasted of his efforts to confront them over public employee benefits.

When he got the Massachusetts AFL-CIO’s endorsement last fall, he kept the event off his campaign schedule. The police unions protested against him during the campaign, payback for slashing their benefits.

Last Tuesday, Patrick’s speech to the AFL-CIO’s “State of the Union Conference’’ in Plymouth was closed to the press.

But then Patrick released the text of the speech and issued a press release saying that he had asked organized labor to support his “second term reform agenda.’’

Patrick’s spokesman, Alex Goldstein, said the governor was respecting the wishes of his hosts to keep the appearance closed to the public, but “we thought it was an important speech that we wanted everyone to be able to see.’’

In it, Patrick reiterated his argument that his cooperative approach to trimming labor benefits contrasts with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s successful push to strip most collective bargaining rights for public workers, which Patrick labeled a “sham.’’

The Massachusetts AFL-CIO president, Robert J. Haynes, said Patrick’s speech was closed because it was part of the organization’s annual strategy session. “Like any business in the free world has the press in when they’re discussing their strategic plan?’’ he said.

The Wisconsin fight seems to have brought Patrick and organized labor closer. The governor also delivered an impassioned speech outside the Massachusetts State House at a prounion rally last month, declaring “we don’t need to attack public sector workers to make change for the people of the Commonwealth.’’

— Noah Bierman

Governor hits the road in April to promote bookIn addition to his political travels, Governor Deval Patrick will embark on a book tour next month that will take him to Washington, New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles over an 18-day period and put him on the “Today’’ show and other high-visibility venues, his publisher said Friday.

The busy schedule is sure to renew criticism that Patrick’s attempts to sell his memoir and become a national figure are distracting him from his duties to the state.

Patrick’s spokesman Brendan Ryan said the events are spread out and that the governor will be out of the state for a cumulative total of seven days.

Anyone who owns a radio or television will find it hard to miss Patrick during the tour. It includes appearances on “The Daily Show,’’ “Real Time with Bill Maher,’’ National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition,’’ the “Tavis Smiley’’ show, and MSNBC.

— Noah Bierman

Tweet of the week This week we traveled all the way to Iowa (via Twitter) for our Tweet of the Week, because Republican Senator Chuck Grassley (@chuckgrassley) gave us such a good laugh with this lament: “Quit complaining abt my Twitter shorthand I know how to spell But Twitter limit is 120 characters.’’

Actually, it’s 140 characters, senator, but we feel your pain.