Massachusetts state lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to strip municipal employees of their right to collectively bargain over healthcare benefits last week.
The 111-to-42 vote followed tougher measures to broadly eliminate collective bargaining rights for public employees in Ohio, Wisconsin, and other states. But unlike those efforts, the push in Massachusetts was led by Democrats who have traditionally stood with labor to oppose any reduction in workers’ rights.
Unions fought hard to stop the bill, launching a radio ad that assailed the plan and warning legislators that if they voted for the measure, they could lose their union backing in the next election. After the vote, labor leaders accused House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo and other Democrats of turning their backs on public employees.
House Speaker DeLeo (D-Winthrop) claims the measure could save municipalities across the Commonwealth $100 million for the upcoming fiscal year and prevent possible layoffs.
Not surprisingly, Bay State public employee unions have vowed to continue fighting the measure even though the bill is by no means guaranteed to pass the Massachusetts state senate, where it is headed next.
Rudy Renaud, an organizer with AFSCME told 22News, “I just can’t believe that after everything that's happened in a state like this Massachusetts, they would try to take collective bargaining rights from workers."The melodrama surrounding the recent legislation in Wisconsin has garnered much of the headlines when the subject has come up, but Massachusetts and other blue states have begun quietly curtailing public sector union's influence recently as well.
Governor Deval Patrick said this isn't the same thing that happened in Wisconsin, but union supporters disagree.
"This is an erosion of workers rights to not be able to bargain on health care to just have management tell you what it's going to be, yea I think it's closer to Wisconsin than we think,” said Renaud.
[Hat tip: Labor Union Report; Lonely Conservative ]