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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A shot across the bow

House Speaker Robert DeLeo certainly has labor's attention this morning.

A budget that calls for stripping public employees of collective bargaining rights over health care payments amounts to a massive 2-by-4 to the backside of constituency that has been slow to the see the importance that Deval Patrick -- and now apparently lawmakers -- attach to reducing some burdensome costs to Massachusetts cities and towns.

Union leaders have consistently balked at making any changes in the premiums paid by their members who toil for cities and towns. As a result, Deval Patrick has slowly upped the ante on what form of "veto" options unions have in collectively bargaining over those costs.

Now, with the drama of Wisconsin still fresh in everyone's minds, DeLeo comes with the nuclear option. Because labor hasn't come to the table with a reasonable counter-offer, the House is giving them a look at what a failure to compromise might look like.

Naturally, union leaders are not amused.
“The only thing that this budget does is silence the voice of working families,’’ said Edward Kelly, president of the Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts. “But those voices won’t be silent in November 2012.’’
It's a dangerous dance because the reality is that it's unlikely there is the political will to take such a strong anti-labor stance in the Massachusetts Legislature. Unions, knowing that, could continue to resist, thinking they can win a stare down.

But as Scott Brown's election proves, there's also a sentiment out there calling for government belt-tightening. And if labor declares war on Democrats seeking compromise, they could find themselves on the short end of the battle -- put their by their own members who like both Brown's rhetoric and the jobs they could lose in the rush to find money to pay for their benefits.

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Anonymous Joel Patterson said...

Is it belt tightening to give the Mass Municipal Association all the leverage on health insurance contracts when they own a subsidiary that provides municipal health insurance? Brian Mooney did an article about this in the Globe a year ago, in May.

April 14, 2011 5:33 AM  
Blogger tbone1 said...

The only belt tightening Brown is for is the working class only !

April 14, 2011 7:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kinda like when New Bedford police/fire voted against taking the 10% pay cuts. Of course the vote wasn't unanimous the lower seniority guys who would lose their jobs voted to accept the cut, but their brothers is red/blue threw them under the bus.

April 14, 2011 9:09 AM  
Anonymous Joel Patterson said...

Oh yeah, this is it:
It's called the "the Massachusetts Interlocal Insurance Association. A portion of the insurance premiums paid by communities and their employees is used to pay part of municipal association’s overhead, including Beckwith’s salary, which he declined to disclose.

The association and its insurance arm are nonprofit corporations but not public charities and therefore not required to file annual reports with the attorney general’s office disclosing the salaries of their top employees."

April 14, 2011 4:24 PM  

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