It was in second grade when a young Janice Dunlevy announced to her class during recess: “Anyone in my way gets a five-cent kick”! Unfortunately, it was John who happened to be in the way and received that nickel kick. John would never have imagined back then that he was just introduced to his future bride of 42 years. The two grew up in East Bridgewater, and their relationship began to develop when John asked Janice on their first date to the Sophomore Hop.
John’s family includes his parents, Alden and Flora with two older siblings, David and Karen. John’s household was active in local politics. As a toddler, John learned the political process of collecting signatures with his Dad and the art of campaigning. Thus, it was only natural for him to study Political Science at Northeastern University, where he was very active in the anti-war movement. After graduation, he campaigned for Tom Atkins for the Mayor of Boston and later for Fr. Drinan for Congress and worked as a community organizer with Mass. Fair Share.
His first job in the labor movement was with SEIU Local 509. Newly elected President Lois Belfour hired John as the local’s Legislative Director. John recognizes her as, “his first example of a true progressive union leader”.
After six years with 509, John went to work for the Dukakis administration as Assistant to the Secretary of Administration and Finance. There he had the opportunity to work with two mentors, Secretary Frank Keefe, who formerly worked as Lowell’s city planner and helped in the redevelopment of downtown Lowell and Heritage State Park. The other was Edward Lashman Jr., he was a labor leader during the merger of the AFL-CIO. As an AFL-CIO lobbyist, he helped win the passage of the Voting Rights Act and the Fair Housing Act. He also served as White House liaison to HUD in the LBJ administration.
After working with the Dukakis administration, John attended the Kennedy School at Harvard. While working on his master’s degree in Public Administration, he met John Dunlop the former Dean of Harvard College and Secretary of Labor under President Gerald Ford. Professor Dunlop at the time was working on a research project and asked John was asked to participate. That project was to create the first database for the Joint Labor Management Committee. The professor was committed to a process of focusing on bringing the parties together, to agree on the problem, and its statistical data and to jointly solve the problem. This model became the foundation for the formation of the Joint Labor Management Commission. (JLMC)
He worked for Professor Dunlop for seven years as a Mediator at the JLMC and an additional seven years as an Arbitrator / Mediator at the Board of Conciliation and Arbitration. He moved into private practice in 2005.
In 2014 he was unanimously chosen by the Management, Police and Fire members of the JLMC to become its fourth Chair and was appointed by the Governor. There, working with the committee leadership and members they began to put together a team of extremely experienced retired municipal managers and former police and fire union presidents to work together as Senior Staff for Labor and Management. Working as a team these individuals use their experience and expertise to help parties to resolve their differences in a non-confrontational environment.
On a lighter note, we found that John is an avid cook. Growing up in a French-Canadian household he likes anything with a cream sauce and is working his way through Julia Childs.
John and Janice also enjoyed restoring their 14 room Victorian in Dorchester, doing the bulk of the work themselves.
When asked if there was anyone incident or moment that influenced his life, he replied. “It seems I have been on this progression moving in a certain direction where people took a chance on me, whether it be Lois Balfour early on, or Frank Keefe or Ed Lashman or John Dunlop who got me into mediation. I learned an awful lot from some very, very smart people.”
And this too is part of John’s natural progression. Congratulations, we are honored to present you with the CGA ,Fr. Edward F. Boyle Award.