Two thoughts to add to Jim Stergios’s excellent post below on the state Senate’s cloaked attempt to gut a good-faith effort by the House to give municipalities the tools they need to control employee health care costs.
The House plan would let cities and towns save as much as $100 million a year – money that could be put toward sustaining public services. Amendments to the Senate budget would take it all away.
First, the Senate’s mischief is a classic example of the collusion between elected officials and the unions, when the parties are supposed to be on opposite sides of the table.
The reason cities and towns are in the trouble they are in now is because at contract time, they and the unions have their own special definition of the “give and take” of negotiation.
The union agrees to “give up” something – a bigger pay raise, an expanded benefit, or anything that can be spun to the public as a sacrifice. But then, with the consent of the municipal negotiators, they take back something of equal or greater value, in the form of more expensive work rules, time off, more support for things like – well, things like health care and pensions. We should not be surprised that such games are now bankrupting communities.
And now members of the Senate are doing the same thing, proving that they represent the unions, not the people. What is the point of negotiations, if the union gives up 100 bucks, but then gets back that much or more in some other form?
Second, it is refreshing in the extreme to see both of the city’s daily papers take the side of the taxpayers in this battle. The Globe, cited in Jim’s post below, weighed in on June 9. The Herald did so today.
Too often, the Globe’s editorial stance has been that public employees are the only “working people” involved – a gross distortion. The people who have to pay the bills are working people too. It is about time they had a voice.