The assault on public workers continues as state Democrats, the usually union-friendly party, voted to strip all public workers of their rights to collectively bargain on healthcare. The bill passed 111-42, with 81 Democrats voting for it. Although the bill passed in Massachusetts is not as strict as the one passed in Wisconsin, where collective bargaining was stripped for all aspects, it does not exempt any sector of public employee. Police and firemen are exempt from the bill in Wisconsin.
The Democrats in the state House say restricting public workers' rights on healthcare will save $100 million, and prevent layoffs and fewer services. Under the Democrats' plan, cities and towns in Massachusetts can set the co-pay and deductibles for public workers' healthcare plans. The unions would have 30 days to try to get a different outcome. If the two sides don't agree, the municipal plans take effect but unions would reap the benefit of the proposed 20 percent savings. If the new plan were adopted, workers would save 10 percent of proposed savings. The plan also calls for all eligible retirees to enroll in Medicare.
Rep. Martin Walsh (D-Dorchester) presented a different proposal in which disputes would be settled by binding arbitration, leaving collective bargaining for public workers in place. In presenting his plan Walsh said, "Financial companies got slapped on the wrist for all their wrongdoing, while public employees are losing their benefits." Walsh went on to note the city of Boston collectively bargained with unions to save $70 million in healthcare costs.
Professional Firefighters of Massachusetts President Ed Kelly said, "There's a class war going on this country and today the Massachusetts House sided against the middle class. The Speaker told us good luck when we left his office, and I told him good luck and good luck to his Democratic members."
"Can you imagine what teachers and firefighter (sic) and police officers and public sector works (sic) and nurses and librarians are going to think when they wake up tomorrow morning to find out the Democrats that we elected, that we worked for, that we contributed to their campaigns (sic) just snatched collective bargaining away from them, just took the voice, the Democratic voice, away from working people."
A lot of conservatives say or will say, "Where is the outrage about this? I guess it only happens when Republicans do it." Well, here is the outrage. Hundreds of banks have been bailed out, and oil companies get $30 billion in subsidies despite making record profits. ExxonMobil, for example, made $30.5 billion in profit last year. The rich in this country continue to get richer, while politicians continue to give them tax breaks. Wall Street ruined many communities around the country, while their executives and managers got even richer.
A town in Iowa lost millions of dollars when Wells Fargo invested their money into a fund that was created to fail. The creator of that fund made billions of dollars. Yet somehow, in the midst of these factors, public workers are the enemy. Public workers' salaries and benefits need to be reined in. The people who work the hardest, the lower and middle class, get the shaft while the higher-ups get the gold.
No matter what any politician says, Republican or Democrat, if he or she votes to strip the little rights workers have, they are not on the side of the little guy. Shame on the Massachusetts Democrats for walking lockstep with Republicans to wage class warfare.