Patrick Crowley

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For the Irish politician, see Patrick Crowley (politician).
Patrick Crowley
Crowley speech.jpg
Personal details
Born (1973-02-18) February 18, 1973 (age 41)
Marshfield, Massachusetts
Residence Lincoln, Rhode Island
Alma mater University of Massachusetts Amherst, Bridgewater State College
Profession Union Organizer

Patrick Crowley (born February 18, 1973) is an American union organizer, blogger, and community activist currently living in Lincoln, Rhode Island. A graduate of the Labor Relations and Research Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst Crowley is one of many who entered the labor movement during the mid-1990s when the AFL-CIO President John Sweeney issued a call to arms for a new generation of Union organizers to re-energize the American labor movement. He is a student of the philosophy of Saul Alinsky, author of, among other works, Rules for Radicals. Crowley made reference to Alinsky in a 2008 newspaper review of David Sirota's book The Uprising: An Unauthorized Tour of the Popular Revolt Scaring Wall Street and Washington.[1]

Early career[edit]

As a graduate student Crowley was a member of GEO, the Graduate Employee Organization, the student worker unions emerging on college campuses during the 1990s. GEO was affiliated with the United Auto Workers union and was known for its militancy during Crowley's tenure as president. In 1997 the union members and students occupied a University administration building, where Crowley told the The Valley Advocate newspaper during the occupation:

"In broad terms, when it comes to workers, it really is 'us' and 'them,'" Crowley said. "And by pushing for things like child care and affirmative action, which usually aren't in union contracts, we're making the 'us' a little bigger.... To include black people, to include gays and lesbians, is taking the labor movement to the next step."

After leaving University, Crowley took a position with the Teamsters Union in Boston, Massachusetts. He was arrested during mass picketing in the 1997 national UPS strike. Crowley was involved in several more mass picket strikes and demonstrations as the militancy of the American Labor movement increased in the face of the rise of neo-liberalism.

On-going career[edit]

Crowley left the Teamsters and went to work for the healthcare workers union in Southeastern Massachusetts and eventually for the National Education Association Rhode Island where he still works today. For several years he was a writer for, and for a brief time owner/editor of the politically left-leaning blog RIFuture.Org[2]

Crowley has garnered attention using "Alinsky-style" tactics of ridicule and direct action. For example, during the 2006 race for US Senate[3] between incumbent Lincoln Chafee (R-Rhode Island) and challenger Sheldon Whitehouse, a person in a President George W. Bush mask that was spotted hounding the Chafee campaign was later reported to be Crowley[4] (Bush was unpopular at the time and was seen as drag on the Republican Chafee's re-election).[5] Crowley also clashed repeatedly with Republican Governor Donald Carcieri. After Carcieri wrote a letter condemning Crowley for publicly criticizing the Republican Governor's stance on immigration issues[6] Crowley exposed Carcieri's failure to pay taxes on two of the Governor's luxury condominiums in Florida.[7]

In 2010, Crowley, working with the teachers union and other labor groups,[8] worked in primary elections to unseat incumbent elected officials who were seen as working against unions' interest, even though they were members of the Democratic Party, the traditional allies of the American Labor Movement. "Union members are going to sit on the sideline unless we recruit candidates and get them motivated to turn out. What the labor movement did in Rhode Island sends a good message to the rest of the labor movement that it is possible to primary anti-labor Democrats."[9] The same strategy was used in 2012 in Rhode Island,[10] and helped create the environment where the heavily catholic state of Rhode Island eventually passed a marriage equality in 2013.[11][12][13]

'The Flight of the Earls'[edit]

As a union organizer and agitator Crowley is credited with coining the phrase the "flight of the earls myth" to describe the idea that a state's tax policies drive residents, particularly rich residents, out of the state. Crowley took the phrase "flight of the earls" from a period in Irish history, when Irish leaders were driven into exile by English conquerors.[14] Crowley's writings,[15] blogging[16] and organizing on the subject made use of the phrase common place in Rhode Island[17][18] liberal circles. It also drew the ire of right wing critics,[19] although several national studies[20][21][22] supported Crowley's overall point that simply raising taxes on rich people do not drive people out of any particular state.


  1. ^ Crowley, Patrick (June 25, 2008), "Time For an Uprising in R.I.", Opinion, The Providence Journal, retrieved October 15, 2011 
  2. ^ Donnis, Ian (December 24, 2008). "Crowley to Succeed Jerzyk at RIFUTURE". The Providence Phoenix. 
  3. ^ United States Senate election in Rhode Island, 2006
  4. ^ Cotter, Pamela Reinsel (December 4, 2006), "Who Was That Masked Man?", Projo Politics Blog, The Providence Journal, retrieved October 15, 2011 
  5. ^ Harnden, Toby (October 29, 2006), "Voting Against Bush Won't Save a Republican Up North", The Daily Telegraph (London), retrieved October 15, 2011 
  6. ^ MacKay, Scott (May 7, 2008), "Carcieri to NEARI: Does Crowley Speak for Union on Immigration?", Projo Politics Blog, The Providence Journal, retrieved October 15, 2011 
  7. ^ Milkovits, Amanda (August 28, 2008), "Carcieri Owes Taxes in Florida", The Providence Journal, retrieved October 15, 2011 
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  14. ^ Flight of the Earls
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  17. ^ Regunberg, Aaron (October 28, 2011), "Who's Being Selfish?", GOLOCALPROV, retrieved January 27, 2012 
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  21. ^ Frank, Robert (February 14, 2011). "Are High Taxes Driving the Rich Out of Connecticut?". The Wall Street Journal. 
  22. ^

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