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Boston’s own Sean O’Brien leads the Teamsters in contract talks with UPS, unionization effort at Amazon


On Monday morning, O’Brien led a rally of more than 250 members at the UPS facility off Summer Street in South Boston, calling for safe working conditions for drivers as they navigate the summer heat. He also pledged to go on strike a year from now if satisfactory conditions can’t be added to the union’s next contract with UPS before the current one expires at the end of next July.

O’Brien, a fourth generation Teamster, campaigned for the national Teamsters job last year by promising to take a harder line on employers than the union did under his predecessor, James P. Hoffa, and easily beat Hoffa’s endorsed successor. After O’Brien won the national campaign, longtime lieutenant Tom Mari took over O’Brien’s old job as president of Teamsters Local 25 in Boston.

The most immediate task for the Teamsters, which represents more than 350,000 UPS employees, is pressing the delivery giant to do more to protect its drivers in the heat, particularly because the delivery trucks do not have air conditioning. The Teamsters union is demanding the company install fans in every truck and provide water for all drivers, among other safety precautions. O’Brien expects heat protections will be a major issue in the upcoming contract negotiations.

UPS is on the hot seat now. But O’Brien reserves much of his ire for Amazon, which has repeatedly rebuffed unionization efforts. One warehouse in Staten Island voted to unionize in April, and similar campaigns are underway at other locations. Some of the union drives, unlike the Staten Island effort, are Teamsters-sponsored. O’Brien said his union is seeing momentum in Michigan and in the western states, as well as in Canada.

“We’re fighting corporate America like there’s no tomorrow,” O’Brien said. “Amazon is going to be our largest target.”

He added that too many people are enamored with billionaire business leaders such as Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Tesla chief executive Elon Musk and Starbucks chief executive Howard Schultz.

“They lose sight of why this country has been successful,” O’Brien said. “It’s not because of people like [those executives]. It’s because of the people who work for them.”

New top partner settles in at Nixon Peabody

There’s a new face leading Nixon Peabody’s Boston office, a familiar one to many in Boston’s business community.

Jim Vallee last month took over as managing partner of the law firm’s Boston office, from Chris Froeb, who was recently picked to lead Nixon Peabody’s affordable housing and real estate practice. The Boston office is the firm’s largest location, with about 250 employees, including roughly 120 attorneys, based at 53 State St.

This new job is a natural role for Vallee, who is well known in Boston in large part because he was a state rep for nearly two decades before joining Nixon Peabody in 2012. He currently leads the firm’s government relations practice.

Vallee will still spend the bulk of his time with clients in fields as varied as tech, energy, and health care. In his role as office managing partner, he’ll help set back-to-office and COVID protocols, among other internal procedures.

And he plans to ensure Nixon Peabody has a bigger presence in the community, possibly by joining more business groups and attending more functions.

“It’s good business to do that,” Vallee said. “I think it’s also important for us [on principle] as a company that’s located here, to have these relationships.”

The social event of the summer

It sure seemed like half of Boston’s business community and political intelligentsia were on hand when PR mogul George Regan tied the knot on Saturday with Elizabeth Akeley at the Nauticus Marina in Osterville. Well, maybe not half. But the guest list of 400 people did read a bit like those “most influential Bostonians” rankings that Boston magazine publishes every year.

Governor Charlie Baker did the honors, with the power vested in him by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Patriots owner Robert Kraft gave a benediction. John Fish, chief executive of construction giant Suffolk, lent his meticulously-built replica tugboat, the SS Lollipop, to provide a memorable mode of transportation for the bridal party.

And developer David Southworth (and co-best man, with former NYC police boss Bill Bratton) offered some parting words of advice for Regan. “Never criticize Elizabeth’s decisions,” Southworth said. “Because you’re one of them.”

A new ally for North South Rail Link

Former governor Mike Dukakis and former state rep John Businger may have hit up just about every politician in New England to join the North South Rail Link working group, a coalition that favors the proposed train tunnel through downtown Boston that would connect North Station and South Station.

Are sports executives next? Maybe.

Larry Lucchino, chairman and principal owner of the Worcester Red Sox, is the latest to climb on board.

Businger argues that if WooSox fans north of Boston can’t take the train directly to South Station, it makes it that much tougher to get on the Worcester line and head out to Polar Park. Businger said he originally approached Charles Steinberg, the WooSox president, but Steinberg suggested they start with Lucchino.

Dukakis then called Lucchino to seal the deal. Apparently, he didn’t need much convincing.

“I am supportive of any efforts to improve the rail system that is vitally important for all of Massachusetts,” Lucchino said.

Great quarter and happy birthday

Celebrating the big 5-0? Some of us might throw ourselves a party, or go out for a night on the town.

But General Electric’s Carolina Dybeck Happe celebrated her 50th birthday the way only a chief financial officer of a big public company could: by co-hosting an earnings call.

GE chief executive Larry Culp mentioned it was her birthday during the introductory remarks. So just about every analyst — yes, even perpetual GE bear Steve Tusa of JPMorgan Chase — wished her a happy birthday.

Because what says fun like FX exposure or unfavorable mark-to-market impacts?

Perhaps Scott Davis of Melius Research summed it up best: “Carolina, I can’t think of a worse way to spend your birthday than having to talk to us, but anyways,” Davis said on the conference call. “I hope Larry lets you leave early today.”


Jon Chesto can be reached at jon.chesto@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jonchesto.





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