April 28th, 2011 6:24 AM
Last night, the Massachusetts House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill (111-42) to strip public-sector workers of their ability to bargain collectively for healthcare. The rhetoric surrounding the bill, proposed by Democratic State House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, is in many ways similar to what Wisconsinites recently heard as Gov. Walker pushed his infamous unionbusting bill.
But how could a state in which Democrats control both the State House and the Governor’s mansion be pushing a bill that attacks workers’ rights to collectively bargain?
The State of Massachusetts currently faces a budget deficit of $1.9 billion. House Democrats say that by limiting the collective bargaining rights of public employees over healthcare they can save the state $100 million a year. Democrats in Massachusetts, much like Democrats in New York, have focused on cutting basic government services and workers’ wages instead of raising taxes on the richest. Thus, House Speaker DeLeo proposed the plan that would limit the rights of employees to collective bargain over healthcare. And many Democrats, who have been supported by labor unions in the state, passed it.
“We are going to fight this thing to the bitter end,’’ Robert J. Haynes, president of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, told the Boston Globe last night. “Massachusetts is not the place that takes collective bargaining away from public employees.’’
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