Healey orders creation of Labor Advisory Council

Roger Brunelle, former vice president of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, is the governor’s new labor advisor. The position is new, as Gov. Maura Healey signed an order Tuesday to create a Labor Advisory Council.

Roger Brunelle, former vice president of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, is the governor’s new labor advisor. The position is new, as Gov. Maura Healey signed an order Tuesday to create a Labor Advisory Council. Courtesy Governor's Office

By SAM DRYSDALE

State House News Service

Published: 03-13-2024 9:48 AM

BOSTON — A Labor Advisory Council will be created to advise Gov. Maura Healey on matters related to organized labor, under an executive order the governor signed Tuesday.

Healey also announced Roger Brunelle, former vice president of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, as her labor advisor, a new post. He joined the administration in June 2023 as a senior advisor in the governor’s Federal Funds and Infrastructure Office.

Brunelle spent three decades in organized labor, according to the administration, ten of which his LinkedIn says were as political director for International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 35.

The governor made the announcements at the Massachusetts Building Trades Union’s Annual Convention at MGM Springfield.

So far in the corner office, Healey has made labor-related news through negotiating a contract with the Carmen’s Union last summer aimed at improving frontline employee retention and recruitment at the MBTA and advocating for a labor-led transition to clean-energy jobs. She has also spoken out against the push by some public school teachers for a legal right to strike.

The governor has not yet taken an explicit stance on a high-profile labor issue that could hit ballots next fall, to give Uber and Lyft drivers the ability to unionize and collectively bargain. She did, however, sue Uber and Lyft in 2020 over their classification of workers, arguing that it left drivers without access to key employment benefits.

The council will have at least 15 members from the public and private sectors, representing building trades, energy, health care, government, manufacturing, service and retail, and transportation, according to Healey’s office.

“Governor Healey and Lieutenant Governor Driscoll have been great partners to organized labor throughout their careers,” says a statement from AFL-CIO President Chrissy Lynch. “They understand that working people are central to everything that makes our Commonwealth run. We are thrilled to take that partnership to the next level through this Labor Advisory Council, and the hiring of longtime union member and worker advocate, Roger Brunelle, as Labor Advisor. Ensuring the voices of working people are front and center in state government will help grow our Commonwealth’s middle class, now and into the future.”

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The order marks the first time in more than 50 years that a Massachusetts governor has created such a council, according to Healey’s office.