Massachusetts Lawmakers strip health care bargaining rights from municipal employees

April 27, 2011 in Union

Massachusetts Lawmakers strip health care bargaining rights from municipal employees

Some say move will save cities more than $100M

Updated: Wednesday, 27 Apr 2011, 6:18 PM EDT
Published : Wednesday, 27 Apr 2011, 5:53 AM EDT

BOSTON (FOX 25 / MyFoxBoston.com) – In a surprising move to balance the state’s budget,  Massachusetts lawmakers voted overwhelmingly late last night to strip health care bargaining rights from municipal employees.
 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 efforts in Wisconsin and Ohio that sparked massive protests, the push in Massachusetts was led by state Democrats who have traditionally stood by labor unions.

After the vote, labor leaders lashed out, accusing House Speaker Robert DeLeo and other Democrats of turning their backs on public employees.

“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.”

Supporters say the vote — which still needs approval from the Senate — will save cities and towns more than $100 million.

Gov. Deval Patrick is urging both sides to “dial down the rhetoric” over the plan and said it’s important to pass a bill to ease the health care burden on communities while guaranteeing labor a seat at the table.