Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Massachusetts House Threatens Labor Rights

The Speaker of the Massachusetts House wants to take away some collective bargaining rights for municipal workers. Claiming that healthcare costs are too high for towns, Speaker DeLeo wants to give town managers the ability to completely design the healthplans of the town workers, no matter what contract was agreed to.

Massachusetts labor unions have rounded up support from 50 House lawmakers, including six members of House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo’s leadership team, in a push to fend off the speaker’s plan to limit collective bargaining rights for teachers, firefighters, and other local government employees.

DeLeo has pitched his effort as a high priority to help curb escalating municipal health care costs, saving jobs for government employees and services for residents.

In one sense this is not nearly as bad as Scott Walker's attempt to pulverize unions. But in another sense, when one considers how Massachusetts bucked the Red Tide of 2010 with Democratic wins in all State & Congressional races, and it has a House that is 80% Democratic, it is surprising to see a Mass. Democratic Speaker fall in line with the Republican idea that public employee unions can't be dealt with, and should not have a say in what their healthcare benefits should be.

This only goes to show that it is not enough to have Democrats in office, nor just strong union membership. A political atmosphere needs to be created and maintained to protect the right of people to have a say in their working conditions and healthcare.

More can be read about it here.