Massachusetts Lawmakers Bite The Hand That Fed Them

The latest victims of Scott Walker’s vicious mind control rays appear to be the overwhelmingly Democratic (128-32 for those scoring at home) Massachusetts House of Representatives.

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.

Surely this must have been another example of Koch Brothers funded union busting.  Well, not exactly says Democrat Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo.

 DeLeo said the House measure would save $100 million for cities and towns in the upcoming budget year, helping them avoid layoffs and reductions in services. He called his plan one of the most significant reforms the state can adopt to help control escalating health care costs.

“By spending less on the health care costs of municipal employees, our cities and towns will be able to retain jobs and allot more funding to necessary services like education and public safety,’’ he said in a statement.

Not surprisingly, the unions are quite upset at the behavior of their political brethren.  And they waste no time in reminding them which special interest group put them where they are.

“It’s pretty stunning,’’ said Robert J. Haynes, president of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO. “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.’’

Kudos to the Massachusetts state lawmakers who had the courage to do what is best for the state despite strong opposition from what may be their largest sources of funding and votes. While saving money for Massachusetts cities and towns to avoid layoffs is technically their job, that has never stopped the Mass state house before. This bill may die in the state Senate or on Governor Deval Patrick’s desk (if the heat is too strong), but it is yet another sign that current public union negotiating rules are not fiscally responsible for states running enormous budget deficits.

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