By Andy McKeever On: 11:50PM / Wednesday October 09, 2013
Grossman spoke at the Berkshire Brigades office on Wednesday after filming a television show with the Democratic group.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Manufacturing is in the state's DNA so there is no reason why it can't continue to drive the economy, according to Treasurer and gubernatorial candidate Steven Grossman.
Grossman had an informal meeting with the Berkshire Brigades on Wednesday after filming a television show earlier in the day.
To the relatively small audience, Grossman pledged his support for the Brigades' efforts to place questions on raising the minimum wage and earned sick time on the ballot in 2014 while at the same time, asking for their support in his campaign for governor.
Grossman began a short talking portion by saying that requiring all workers be given earned sick time in case of illness is "long overdue."
The earned sick time question is one of two the coalition Raise Up, of which the Berkshire Brigades are a part, is trying to get on the ballot.
Grossman said, in the 35 years he ran his family's business, providing extra benefits made for better workers.
"You empower workers by providing benefits," Grossman said. "Earned sick time is one of the benefits people are provided in our company for 25 years and when people say to me 'I can't afford to do that and I won't support you as a small-business owner,' I say, 'you can't afford not to do it."
He said the family paper company has not gone to arbitration since the workers unionized in 1952 and that's because the owners provide those extra benefits and, in return, received better work.
"For me, fundamentally, the relationship between those who own companies and those who run companies is a symbiotic relationship. They fit together," Grossman said. "You can have a nice looking suit on and a nice looking car but if you walk into your place of business if you don't treat those who work in your company with grace and dignity, particularly when you are sitting across the table from them in a union negotiation, then they are not empowered. If you empower your workers, they give you flexibility, increased productivity."
Raise Up is also seeking an ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage, which Grossman says he supports because at $8 an hour currently, it isn't possible for a worker to be "self sufficient."
Besides giving a short speech, the treasurer spoke one-on-one with everyone who attended.
Meanwhile, Grossman is working to get his name on the ballot as well. As he harkened back to his business days to support those initiatives, he did the same Wednesday to explain why he is running for governor.
"I am running for a very simple reason. I believe the people in this commonwealth want a proven leader that will leave no one behind," he said.
As a businessman, he spoke with small businesses across the state about the "roadblocks" in the way of growth. He heard about the cost of health insurance and the need for technical assistance but even more importantly was the need for access to capital.
When he was elected treasurer he started the Small Business Banking Partnership, which took some of the state's reserves from overseas banks and transferred them into loans to businesses. Grossman said Starbase Technology, a Pittsfield molding company, was able to secure a loan through that fund and purchased three new pieces of equipment and added 17 jobs.
Across the state, Grossman says more than $308 million has been loaned to community banks specifically for local businesses while those loans are now worth more than $570 million.
He added that advanced manufacturing, life sciences and green technology jobs are high paying and are an opportunity for growth.
Grossman said he wants to continue to invest in education and rid the state of the waiting lists for early education programs and put more money into vocational programs. Locally, Grossman, who as treasurer is chairman of the Massachusetts School Building Authority, said he is fully supportive of building a new Taconic High School.
"That is the key to our economic future," he said. "There is no reason why manufacturing, which is in the bones, the DNA of this commonwealth for decades, generations — think Pittsfield, think Greenfield, think North Adams, think Chicopee, think Holyoke, think Fall River, think New Bedford — advanced and precision manufacturing. I've set a goal to create 50,000 new manufacturing jobs in this commonwealth in five years."
Overall, Grossman is hoping to pass on the values that were passed onto him. Grossman said his grandfather once told him that he only wanted four things in life — a healthy family, educated children, to own his own business and to give back to the community. And those four things are what Grossman said he wants all residents to have a chance to do.
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