Robert J. Haynes, the president of the AFL-CIO of Massachusetts, will not seek reelection when his term expires in October, following a historic setback for organized labor on Beacon Hill.
Haynes, who has been president of the state’s main labor group since 1998, recently failed to persuade state lawmakers to drop their bid to cut the collective bargaining rights of municipal employees, in an effort to save money for cash-strapped cities and towns.
He alienated some Democratic allies in the Legislature with his tough talk and his vow to oust lawmakers who voted for the bill.
But Kevin Cotter, a member of the AFL-CIO board, said that labor’s defeat on the issue was not the reason for Haynes’s departure.
“It doesn’t surprise me that he wants to spend some personal time with his family and do something else for a while,” said Cotter, who is business manager of the Plumbers Union Local 12 in Boston. “He’s done a great job for the Massachusetts AFL-CIO.”
Haynes was also recently criticized for accepting $72,000 to serve on the board of the nonprofit BlueCross BlueShield of Massachusetts at the same time the board approved an $11 million severance package for its chief executive, Cleve Killingsworth.
In a letter today to his “dear brothers and sisters” in labor, Haynes wrote that the AFL-CIO needs to find younger leaders who can confront the "extraordinary challenges" facing unions, including changing demographics, and fewer benefits.
In the upcoming race for president, he said he would be endorsing Tim Sullivan of the OPEIU Local 6 in Quincy and would back Jen Springer of the AFSCME Council 93 to be secretary-treasurer.
“Transformation requires new ways, new ideas, new strategies, new and young and initiative thinking, and today’s challenges require boundless energy,” Haynes wrote. “Only younger labor members and leaders can carry the day and inspire the new generation of union members."
A former ironworker, Haynes has scored some major victories as president of a group that represents some 400,000 union workers.
He has helped defeat ballot questions to roll back the prevailing wage law, arguing they would hurt services for working people. He has also pushed the state to increase the minimum wage three times, each time making it the highest in the nation.
Cotter said it is not clear who will succeed Haynes, who did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
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