By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – Former State Senator Steven Tolman is taking over as President of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO.

Political editor Jon Keller talked to Tolman about his top priorities in his new post and the Occupy Boston protests.

Tolman visited the protests on behalf of the AFL-CIO and distributed supplies like hand sanitizer and bottled water.

Tolman talks about Occupy Boston

He says that while some protesters seem to want an end to capitalism, his organization does not.

He says the protests are mainly focused against the financial industry in America. “There is a problem there and it seems like we need to just put a little microscope on it and find out why so many people lost so much and nobody was really held accountable.”

Tolman says one of his main priorities is gaining more union members and re-branding the AFL-CIO.

“There’s a direct correlation of the demise of the middle class to the lowering of union members,” says Tolman.

Tolman on changing the image of AFL-CIO

He says one of the most important tasks will be changing the image of the unions.

“We are often misidentified,” says Tolman. “The AFL-CIO is the spokesman for middle class America, middle class Massachusetts. However we’re not tagged that way. We are often tagged as selfish, inappropriate, and we are going to change that we need to re-brand who we are because we do care about the middle class in particular.”

Tolman is a Democrat who represented parts of Boston and Cambridge as well as Watertown and Belmont. A special election will be held January 10 to fill the vacant State Senate seat.

Jon Keller