The parties go on (well, not all of them), picket-free

Published July 26, 2004 2:42AM (EDT)

Welcoming parties were held across Boston tonight for Democratic state delegations, and local union contract disputes were threatening to make them a little more exciting than usual -- and more exciting than the Democratic Party had in mind. Until just hours before the punch started flowing at the delegate receptions, unionized police and firefighters were threatening to picket the parties. But the firefighters reached a deal today -- and the unions decided to stand down. It was a P.R. disaster averted for Boston Mayor Tom Menino and a national party with strong union ties. The sight of union members picketing Democratic events was surely not relished by many in the national party, nor by the Kerry-Edwards campaign. John Kerry, in particular, is closely aligned with the firefighters union this election, and he annoyed Menino and some mayors last month when he refused to cross a picket line here to speak to the mayors' conference.

Many union-friendly delegates were probably relieved they didn't even have to consider whether to step over a picket line to get to the artichoke dip. At least some delegates wouldn't have crossed the lines, had they existed. Just the threat of a picket line was enough to cancel Ohio's party. The state's delegation was set for a reception at the choice venue of the Samuel Adams Brewery in Boston's Jamaica Plain neighborhood, complete with beer-flavored ice cream, we heard. In fact, we were all set to join them for some, and are a little embarrassed to admit we hiked out to "J.P." only to find a deserted brewery complex. So we headed down the street to the "People's Party," which was thrown on a grassy area across from the J.P. "T" stop by progressive groups who wanted to offer a populist contrast to the showy bash planned for the Brewery. As it turned out, they were the only party in the neighborhood. (More on that later.)

Instead of reveling at Sam Adams, Ohio's delegates reportedly were encouraged to attend a party with local unions. Michigan also canceled its party due to the picket threats, and several other state delegations didn't cancel their events but urged their delegates not to cross picket lines.

By Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at

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