Public-sector labor leaders generally respond to any proposed reform of their collective bargaining privileges with angry cries of “Union buster!” and “Wisconsin!” But what will the unions say after such reforms are adopted in … Massachusetts?
While Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the New York Legislature have yet to produce any meaningful mandate relief this year, the Bay State’s Legislature is moving closer to ending collective bargaining of health benefits for public employees. From the Boston Globe:
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.
Gov. Deval Patrick, also a Democrat, started the ball rolling earlier this year with a proposal to require cities and towns to either join the state insurance program or negotiate a local plan with equivalent costs. The Legislature’s bill is stronger, although there is talk of giving unions a limited opening to negotiate their own deals before collective bargaining of health benefits is ended.
Gov. Cuomo has already proposed a tax cap inspired by a Massachusetts law. He would do well to imitate Massachusetts in this case, too.