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Massachusetts Dems vote to strip public unions of bargaining rights

By Stephen C. Webster
Friday, April 29, 2011 13:29 EDT
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Weren’t Democrats supposed to be in favor of collective bargaining rights? Well, maybe not.

Welcome to bizarro world.

The Democratic-controlled Statehouse in Massachusetts voted earlier this week to strip public employee unions of their collective bargaining rights, as part of the state’s budget measure. It passed by a vote of 157 to 1.

That’s precisely the same action taken by Republicans in Wisconsin, where it sparked a massive democratic outcry and weeks of rowdy protests.

The Massachusetts legislation would allow local municipalities to make unilateral changes to agreed-upon benefits, like health care, bypassing the need for union approval. It would, however, leave open a 30-day window where unions may be consulted on changes to benefits.

According to The Associated Press, the budget also cuts $800 million from the state’s Medicare-like program MassHealth, and strips more than $65 million in aid to state agencies and municipalities. Another $200 million would be withdrawn from the state’s “rainy-day fund” to help close their spending gap for this fiscal year.

“These are the same Democrats that all these labor unions elected,” Massachusetts AFL-CIO president Robert J. Haynes said in a media advisory. “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.”

He also pledged that the unions would fight this arrangement “to the bitter end.”

“We deserve better in Massachusetts. Working families lost collective bargaining rights in Game 1 of this budget process. It’s on to the Senate, then conference, then the Governor. Working people need to know who is for our right to collectively bargain and who is not.”

It was unclear if state Senate President Therese Murray would allow the budget to proceed.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
 
 
 
 
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