Terri Tauro Part II: “Often the Only Help for Working People is Unions”
Editor’s Note: Each of the six candidates for State Representative of the 8th Essex District sat down for a conversation with Marblehead Beacon. Last week, we covered Terri Tauro’s personal and professional background. This week, we are focusing on some issues she finds most relevant to her campaign.
Among issues demanding urgent action, says Tauro, moving away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy ranks high. “We are decades behind; it’s now triple-digit temperatures in June,” she says, and plans to vote for zero emissions by a certain date once elected. She does note, though, that “we can’t do this without bringing along the workers–without making sure that small businesses can retrofit for solar panels.” Tauro spoke with a local car mechanic, for example, and in order to work on electric cars, she notes, he needs to purchase expensive equipment. “As a state, we have to be thoughtful and act with intention on this. I want renewable energy just as much as everyone else and I believe it is of the utmost importance; however we cannot cripple our economy in the process,” she says. “As much as I want to say ‘shut down this plant’, we have to make sure…that small businesses have subsidized equipment…and are able to change their grid to accept solar panels; that’s expensive.”
Solar panels are something with which Tauro has familiarity. At the office of the Marblehead Harbormaster, where Tauro is the Department Administrator, “we’re trying to get solar docks. But the big expense is trying to transfer the power into…our grid.”
Offshore wind farms are something Tauro believes in not only for their purported environmental upside: “The one off Block Island,” she says, “created five hundred living-wage jobs with benefits in New Bedford.” The future project off the shores of the 8th Essex District, she says, “is going to be larger and will require even more workers to build and maintain and will be minimally invasive–as much as possible–to wildlife, and to the sea bottom.”
Fair Share Amendment
In discussing working families, Tauro brings up her commitment to the initiative known as the “Fair Share Amendment” that Massachusetts voters will see on November’s ballot. If passed, the initiative would amend the state constitution, adding to the existing flat-tax rate of five percent a permanent four percent annual tax on any taxable income over one million dollars. “It has the capacity to bring in billions,” she says. The initiative’s supporters contend it will send dollars directly to education and transportation. The language of the proposed amendment, however, explicitly states that it is “subject to appropriation,” which opponents have suggested could leave it wide open to be allotted to pet projects rather than the promised transportation and education arenas.
When asked about the advisability of nearly doubling the state income tax burden on sole proprietorships, small business owners, and those who sell homes or businesses to fund their retirement, Tauro notes that it would impact only a small percentage of people and that “there are safeguards in place.” Following our interview she provided Marblehead Beacon with a document, entitled “Fair Share for MA–Top 5 Responses to Opposition,” meant to illuminate her position.
Tauro’s five opponents also support the initiative.
Pivotal to the Tauro campaign are labor unions. To date she has received nearly a dozen labor endorsements, including the the Massachusetts Nurses Association and Massachusetts AFL-CIO. As the current President of the Marblehead Municipal Employees Union, Tauro is no stranger to the inner workings of labor unions, and she has routinely represented municipal employees when disputes arise with their employers. A strong believer in advocating for the disenfranchised or those without a visible platform, Tauro says she has “creat[ed], promot[ed], and advocat[ed] for policies that center around equity, dignity, access, and sustainability in all areas of community life” and it is unions, she believes, that are at the center of this philosophy.
As the only candidate in the race holding both a full-time and part-time job, time off from work to campaign is no small matter. The contributions Tauro has received from fellow union members or those associated with unions are a point of pride, not something from which she runs. “As a municipal employee, I am not allowed to host my own fundraisers.” Additionally, she notes that she is not in a position to seek contributions from people with whom she works. Nor can she self fund at a high level, as some other candidates have, she adds. The multiple barriers to entry into political races is something Tauro believes is a significant problem. “Often the only help for working people is unions.”
Tauro’s campaign website may be found here.
Editor’s Note: The author of this story, Lena Robinson, and her family have been close to one of Tauro’s opponents–Jenny Armini–and her family for more than 25 years. Robinson’s husband, Dwight Robson, has donated to Armini's campaign. Marblehead Beacon co-founder Jenn Schaeffner is on the steering committee of the group PowerUP!, on which Terri Tauro serves. Prior to launching Marblehead Beacon, Schaeffner contributed to Tauro's campaign.
Correction: In an earlier version of this article, the Massachusetts Women's Political Caucus was identified as a labor union. While the group did endorse Tauro, it is not a labor union.