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Bay State labor leaders ask Lynch to reconsider vote

By Brian C. Mooney
Globe Staff / March 20, 2010

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More than 20 Massachusetts labor leaders made a last-ditch appeal to US Representative Stephen F. Lynch late yesterday, urging him to “do the right thing’’ and vote for a national health care overhaul.

In a letter delivered to Lynch’s South Boston office, the group suggested a vote against the bill would damage his standing with their membership.

Lynch, a former president of Ironworkers Local 7, declared Thursday that he will vote against the health care bill. He said the current bill does not do enough to force insurance companies to reduce costs.

“Congressman, we will not be able to explain to the working women and men of our union why you voted against their interests,’’ the letter states. “We have stood together time and time again and you have made an enormous difference.’’

“It takes courage to make history,’’ they wrote. “We know that you have always had the courage to do the right thing — national health reform is the right thing for Massachusetts families. Please stand with us once again and do the right thing.’’

The one-page letter is signed by Robert Haynes, president of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO; Francis X. Callahan Jr., president of the Massachusetts Building Trades Council; leaders of the Greater Boston, North Shore, and Bristol-Plymouth regional labor councils; Mark Erlich, executive secretary treasurer of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters; leaders of the five Massachusetts locals of the Service Employees International Union; and officials of other union locals.

Lynch, a Democrat from South Boston, won a special election in 2001 with strong labor backing, but signs of strain in the relationship were evident when he considered a run for the late Edward M. Kennedy’s Senate seat. Labor activists pressured him in vain to endorse a government- sponsored health insurance provider to compete with private insurers. Lynch decided against a Senate run.

Union officials said that the health care bill “is not perfect.’’

“But if Congress does not pass it, we cannot work together to improve it,’’ they wrote. “We fully understand your concerns that this bill does not do enough to hold insurance companies accountable, but this bill is an enormous step.’’

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