Watertown may have a new state senator with the announcement by state Sen. Steven Tolman that he will seek the presidency of the AFL-CIO of Massachusetts labor union.
Tolman, who represents the Second Suffolk and Middlesex District that includes Watertown, told the State House News Service that he has been involved in the labor movement for decades.
“This is a critical juncture for the labor movement in Massachusetts and in our nation. My whole life – when I started working the railroad at 18 years old and got elected president of my local – my whole life has been about the labor movement,” Tolman, 56, told the News Service. “I’ve been inspired by great labor leaders, including my dad. For me, this is like a coming home.”
The Brighton Democrat said that if he wins the post he would give up his Senate seat, according to the State House News Service. The move would end an elected career that led him to the inner circle of the Senate leadership. He currently serves as Senate President Therese Murray’s assistant majority leader.
The vote for the AFL-CIO president is scheduled for October. Robert Haynes, current president of the organization, earlier this year announced plans to step down from the post, which he has held for 13 years, according to the News Service.
Should Tolman leave the senate, a vacancy would be left in the district, which includes Watertown, Belmont, parts of Cambridge and several areas of Boston: Allston, Brighton, the South End and Back Bay. He has held the seat since 1999, when he succeeded his brother, Warren. Before that he served two terms in the House of Representatives.
Should a replacement come from the Second Suffolk and Middlesex District’s House members, the list of potential candidates include Jonathan Hecht (D-Watertown), John Lawn, (D-Watertown), William Brownsberger (D-Belmont), Michael Moran (D-Brighton) and Kevin Honan (D-Brighton).
Tolman has a history of union leadership. He served as New England division chairman of the Transportation Communication International Union, according to the News Service.
Tolman opposed the state’s proposed changes to municipal workers’ bargaining power. He called it an “injustice” and would lead to bankruptcies within the middle class and among seniors, according to the News Service.
“Over the last few years, we’ve taken some pretty hard hits,” he said, according to the News Service. “I hope to be part of a team that swings the pendulum back the other way.”
Nationally, too, labor unions faced pressure notably in states with Republican governors and legislative majorities, such as Wisconsin and Ohio, where efforts have been made to cut back collective bargaining for public unions.