BROOKLINE, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — A high-profile Brookline labor attorney is challenging senior Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey for his seat in the 2020 Democratic primary.
Shannon Liss-Riordan announced her campaign Monday and, in her first interview as a candidate, spoke to WBZ NewsRadio's Kendall Buhl at her Brookline law office.
"I have been a labor lawyer for 20 years," Liss-Riordan said. "I've taken on bold challenges in my career. I've won. I've beat big corporations. And today, there's so many issues that are affecting us that really require a new voice in Washington, and I want to be that voice."
Markey has been representing Massachusetts for over 40 years, but Liss-Riordan said she's coming in with a fresh perspective.
"I'm an outsider, I've never run for office before," she said. "I've never worked in Washington. What I have done is, I've been fighting in the trenches for working people."
That includes her work representing Starbucks baristas in a suit against the coffee giant that eventually saw the company change their tipping policy; her work to ensure labor protections for FedEx drivers and exotic dancers who were misclassified as "contractors" rather than employees; and her recent battles against "the gig economy," including companies like Uber, Lyft, Grubhub, Doordash, and Amazon.
"We have entire industries today which are trying to build their companies off of denying that anyone is their employee, so that they don't have to pay any of the obligations that we as a society have put in place decades ago so that employees have to bear their burden," she said. "I see that as corporate welfare, and we need to change that."
Liss-Riordon also said she was spurred to run in part because of the "assault on women" happening in our world today.
"I watched in shock as Brett Kavanaugh got confirmed last year as our latest Supreme Court Justice, and I had flashbacks to the horror that I felt watching Anita Hill's testimony 28 years ago at the Clarence Thomas Senate Judiciary Committee hearings," she said. "Back then, that inspired me to do more. Right after those hearings, I was an organizer in the women's movement."
Markey did vote against Kavanaugh's nomination, and Liss-Riordan shied away from criticizing the incumbent or the job he's been doing. She said that the Senate needs more women and that she has been inspired by the 2018 primary victories of Ayanna Pressley and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
"I'm excited about getting out there, spending the next 18 months talking to the people of Massachusetts, hearing their concerns, and getting people engaged in the process," she said. "I think there are so many people out there who probably just don't think that politics speaks to them, that no one in Washington hears them or cares about their issues and their needs, and I want to bring more people into the process. We all need to be a part of this conversation—our future depends on it."