When Governor Scott Walker took steps to limit the power of public-employee unions and return the power over policy to the voters of Wisconsin, many of us knew that the newly-elected Republican would start a wave of similar efforts in other states. However, it’s safe to say that one place we didn’t expect to see that wave break early on Plymouth Rock. Not only has the Massachusetts state House passed a new law barring all PEUs from collective bargaining on health care, it passed by a veto-proof majority — because Democrats pushed the bill:
House lawmakers voted overwhelmingly last night to strip police officers, teachers, and other municipal employees of most of their rights to bargain over health care, saying the change would save millions of dollars for financially strapped cities and towns.
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. …
Under the legislation, mayors and other local officials would be given unfettered authority to set copayments and deductibles for their employees, after the 30-day discussion period with unions. Only the share of premiums paid by employees would remain on the health care bargaining table.
Yes, you read that right. Democrats in Massachusetts admitted that Scott Walker had the right idea all along. In fact, the Commonwealth believes that the ability to manage health care coverage will save taxpayers $100 million in the next budget year.
And in another nod to Wisconsin, the House held their vote at 11:30 last night, hoping to avoid the kind of demonstrations that Wisconsin Democrats encouraged in Madison.
AFL-CIO president Robert J. Haynes is furious that the politicians he bought turned out to be rented instead:
“These are the same Democrats that all these labor unions elected. The same Democrats who we contributed to in their campaigns. The same Democrats who tell us over and over again that they’re with us, that they believe in collective bargaining, that they believe in unions. . . . It’s a done deal for our relationship with the people inside that chamber.’’
The Senate takes up the bill next, and Deval Patrick has to decide whether he’ll sign it. Even if this law doesn’t pass, it still vindicates everything Scott Walker did in Wisconsin, and it paints the fleebaggers as even more craven than ever.