What Was the Massachusetts House Thinking?

I didn't think we would see assaults on unions happening in Massachusetts. I was wrong:

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....

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....

The plan, which now goes to the State Senate, gives local officials the ability of municipal governments to set copayments and deductibles for municipal workers. Only the amount of yearly premiums paid by workers would be on the negotiation table for public workers.

As long as we have a system where health insurance is part of employee compensation, workers should be able to negotiate that--it's no different than saying, "You can negotiate for ninety percent of the hours you work, but we get to decide how much we'll pay you for the other ten percent."

Pass the single-payer approach moving through Vermont, and this is not an issue.

Just saying. The MA Legislature is truly cowardly though. They definitely won't raise taxes on the wealthy, even though that's where the money is. Currently, MA has a flat income tax--betcha didn't know that! Steve Forbes must be thrilled.

By the way, Rep. Marty Walz: you just lost my vote. And if someone challenges you, they'll get my donation instead.

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Maybe people will finally come to realize that just because a politician has a D next to his or her name it does not automatically mean they support unions, and also does not automatically mean they should get your money, or more importantly, your vote. The firefighters' union suspending donations to national candidates might send a message, but my fear is that it's the wrong one: unions won't donate, so suck up to the corporations even more to get the money from them instead.

It's the same story over and over again when it comes to Democrats: Republicans move to the right, and the Democrats follow them, ad infinitum.