Labor leader admits it – unions have bought the Legislature

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Robert Haynes supposedly represents organized labor, as head of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO.

But lately he is becoming a walking, talking advertisement for why public-employee union power needs to be restrained.

Haynes admitted publicly this week what everybody knows – that those unions have bought the overwhelmingly Democratic Legislature. Now that there is a possibility (and only a possibility) that they won’t get what they paid for in one instance, they are mad as hell and not going to take it any more.

His rant came at midweek, after the House voted overwhelmingly, 111-42, to strip municipal employees of their right to bargain over health care benefits – a move launched by, of all people, House Speaker Robert DeLeo.

“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.’’

Could it be any more obvious?

Haynes makes perfectly clear the corrupt conflict of interest created by public employees having undue influence in electing the officials who will then sit across the table from them in supposedly adversary situations. He admits that his people have paid them off, and expect them to vote in ways that benefit them, at the expense of the general public.

He is somewhat at a loss here – while he implies that this is Wisconsin redux, it is nothing of the sort – the unions still retain plenty of collective bargaining power. And he can’t claim this is coming from heartless, extremist Republicans who are trying to kill collective bargaining. This is coming from Democrats.

And it is about time. The move, if it ever gets through the Senate (where Senate President Therese Murray is giving every indication that she will bow to her union owners and kill it) could save cities and towns about $100 million a year – money that can be put toward what union leaders are forever claiming is their highest priority – vital services.

It is also past time for such a move because while the unions claim they are willing to be “part of the solution” to desperate financial straits at both the local and state level, they have been the opposite.
Thanks to Gov. Deval Patrick, they have for four years had veto power over the ability of cities and towns to join the state health plan – the Group Insurance Commission. And the vast majority of them have used it, refusing to make even minor sacrifices to preserve services.

Haynes complains Democrats are forsaking “working people.” Actually it is just the opposite. Democrats, at least in the House, are waking up to the fact that it is working people who have to pay for the gilded benefit packages of public employees. They seem to be realizing that those working people deserve some representation too.

It will be interesting to see what happens if the Senate actually joins the House to represent most working people, instead of privileged special interests. Where will Haynes and his union allies turn? To Republicans?