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Union leader, now on Lowell council, slams city’s ‘cronyism and nepotism’

February 13, 2022

Looks to reform a system for hiring and promotions that he learned about while fighting for fellow union members looking for ‘a fair shake’

Local 888 chapter leader Corey Robinson has wasted no time in getting down to business as a newly elected Lowell city councilor. Soon after he was sworn in last month, he blasted the unfairness of the city’s hiring practices — thus taking his working experience in Lowell into the political arena.
“Cronyism and nepotism have existed for far too long in the city’s hiring and promotion practices,” he told The Spark. “We want equitable and transparent procedures.”
Robinson knows about which he speaks. He was with the Lowell Department of Public Works for 15 years and became president of Local 1705 of AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees).
“It was tough for our people to get a fair shake,” Robinson said, commenting on union members seeking job upgrades and promotions. “I think the city can do a lot better.” For him, the goal is hiring the most qualified person for a job and improving employee morale in the process.
Beyond that, he said, the human relations office is understaffed and “15 or 20 years behind the times. They’re in the era of paper and pencil.”
It’s not just his DPW co-workers who were unfairly overlooked. Robinson added that the city’s hiring practices were a big issue he heard echoed on the campaign trail. And that was not just from his constituents in the Centralville district, which he calls “one of the neighborhoods that’s been neglected, in terms of both services and representation.”
Robinson told the Lowell Sun newspaper that residents citywide told him about going “through the interview process and for whatever reason, they were not the selected candidate. Then, they come to find out that the candidate who was awarded the position was a friend or relative of somebody.”
Now he is teaming up with another new councilor in the fight to reform the city’s personnel office. Erik Gitschier also served for a time as president of AFSCME Local 1705 and, later, was head of the Lowell Regional Water Utility.
Both are district councilors elected in November under Lowell’s revamped governance system. Faced with a civil rights lawsuit, the city created district seats for both the council and school committee. All these seats had been elected at large previously, which favored the more affluent neighborhoods.
Robinson is a Local 888 chapter vice president in Tyngsborough (For more on the reform of Lowell’s council, see