Commentary: Lynn needs good jobs and YMCA chief should help

As Lynn natives, we see firsthand that our community needs good jobs now. As we embark on a major revitalization effort, the fuel that will keep the engine moving is good jobs for local families. A good job is a key factor in determining the ability of local workers to earn decent wages that can provide for their families.

That’s why many have been shocked to hear that the Lynn YMCA, which pays no taxes, has refused to hire Lynn workers or Lynn contractors to help with key aspects of their $27 million renovations in Lynn.

In preparation for the renovation of the YMCA Lynn, YMCA of Metro North CEO Bruce Macdonald has cut a series of controversial deals that leave Lynn businesses and Lynn families out in the cold. Those deals include lucrative pacts with an electrical contractor from Worcester and a general contractor from Braintree, just to name a couple. What’s even more troubling, a Lynn area contractor has offered to match the price put forth by the out-of-town companies, but was simply told “no.”

The YMCA’s decision is troubling because when we have good jobs in our community, everybody wins. Workers who are paid fairly and who live locally are able to reinvest and spend those earnings in ways that help local businesses thrive. With nearly 20 percent of Lynn residents living in poverty, our region needs to create a cycle of sustainable economic growth that lifts all local families. [Source: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/lynncitymassachusetts] When one company creates good jobs with fair wages, that isn’t just good for workers, it’s good for other businesses, too. The YMCA should be working toward these goals, not against them.

Apparently, Lynn workers and businesses aren’t good enough for Bruce Macdonald. Perhaps it shouldn’t be so shocking. With a reported annual “non-profit” salary of $213,569, Bruce is clearly looking out for Bruce.
In fact, many YMCA officials collect six-figure salaries, while not paying a dime to fund municipal budgets that support firefighters, police and public schools. That includes YMCA National President Kevin Washington, who raked in a cool $777,294 in 2017. Source: https://s3.amazonaws.com/ymca-ynet-prod/files/organizational-profile/2017-form-990.pdf.

While so many in our community desperately crave good careers, the Lynn YMCA and its six-figure-earning CEO are importing construction labor to build its new facility from Worcester — further clogging our roadways and disenfranchising the very neighbors he supposedly supports.

By outsourcing Lynn jobs to help create profits for his contacts in Worcester and Braintree, Bruce MacDonald is telling workers seeking a decent life in our community to hit the bricks, including the increasing number of women and people of color from Lynn who are enrolled in local construction training programs.

The YMCA slogan is, “Our strength is in community.” Perhaps it is time for the YMCA to reflect on this slogan — and to change course by hiring local contractors that pay good union wages to families from Lynn and the surrounding communities.

Unlike the Worcester and Braintree companies ushered in by Bruce MacDonald, IBEW Local 103 members and contractors, who are from Lynn and who live in Lynn, give back to the community. They have committed thousands of working hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars to Lynn area charities, along with urban renewal efforts like Beyond Walls. We’ve donated our time, resources, and expertise toward making public spaces safer, brighter, and more enjoyable to area residents through lighting installations, public art, and more.

If the urgent need for jobs in our city weren’t enough, IBEW Local 103 members also receive the highest level of training in the nation and are the most professional electricians in the region. That means the buildings we work on are safer, and are always wired by licensed, certified electricians. Better training means better safety for the public, especially when it comes to electrical work. Every man, woman, and child who helps pay Bruce MacDonald’s six-figure salary with their YMCA dues deserves to know that they’re walking into the safest building possible, as opposed to one built with a lesser trained, non-union workforce.
The YMCA has annual revenues exceeding $130,000,000. The bottom line is they can more than afford to help bring good jobs and the safest possible facilities to Lynn residents.

Kenell Broomstein is a 2004 graduate of Lynn Vocational Technical Institute, a Business Agent of IBEW Local 103, a member of the IBEW International Women’s Committee and serves on the Advisory Board of Lynn Vocational Technical Institute.
Danny Quintiliani is a Lynn resident and a member of IBEW Local 103.

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