Much like similar laws passed in states like Wisconsin and Ohio, the legislation will go after public sector union abuse of collective bargaining over health care. Let me refresh people about why that’s important: it’s important because the public perception of benefits packages has traditionally been that they are somehow fundamentally different than wages; this despite the fact that a person who used to have, say, $5,000/year’s worth of health care but now has $10,000/year has effectively gotten a $5,000 raise. But since it’s not seen as a raise, many public sector unions have had free rein in effectively bargaining for more and more benefits every year, in lieu of technical raises. Which is what this legislation addresses:
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.
Under the legislation, mayors and other local officials would be given unfettered authority to set copayments and deductibles for their employees, after the 30-day discussion period with unions. Only the share of premiums paid by employees would remain on the health care bargaining table.
…But do not expect that there will be a reaction to this legislation that will be anything like the hysterical (in every sense of the term) one in Wisconsin: the state legislature in question is Massachusetts, which is dominated by Democrats. Democrats only care about opposing labor union reform when it can be perverted for purely partisan reasons. Given the essentially one-party state nature of Massachusetts, there’s no reason for the Democrats to encourage a real internal insurgency against their rule. Or even permit one, probably.
Moe Lane (crosspost)
PS: Personally I’d prefer that this initiative came from a Republican-controlled Massachusetts state legislature – I’d then believe that the Republicans meant it – but one step at a time. And one instance of blatant Democratic hypocrisy at a time, too.