To the editor:

Over the past months, we've all come to learn that the IBEW Local 103 is run by extortionist thugs who know that Newburyport as a whole doesn't respect them. That's really too bad, considering that we live in a heavily Democratic stronghold that, like me, generally gives strong support to organized labor and the right of collective bargaining. But winning friends in town is not this labor union's objective. They want to set an example to others that might not be so willing to pay protection fees the next time a big project comes up in their town, and the union leaders are not stupid. Their reputation in our town doesn't matter to them, and they know they're never going to win back the Anna Jaques contract.

What might matter to IBEW Local 103 is their ability to win future contracts, and here is where the right counter-protest and PR campaign could make a difference to our community. Associating IBEW Local 103 with unethical tactics and the discreditation of all legitimate unions might have a broader influence in the region and therefore with Local 103. We need an overall message that will have an effect outside of this community, where the union presumably still cares about their reputation and ability to win big contracts. Basically, we need to hit Local 103 where it hurts them most, but still show that we as a community support organized labor.

With that in mind, I believe that a counter-protest should:

1. Point out that IBEW Local 103's tactics are serving only to discredit the otherwise noble purposes of organize labor, and;

2. Call for a boycott of IBEW Local 103.

Doug Hemlepp

Newburyport

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