Massachusetts Gets Real On Public Unions


Did you know that the House of Representatives in Massachusetts, of all places, just passed sweeping restrictions against the collective bargaining privileges of public employees? 

Not only that, but contrary to the Boston Globe’s blithe assertion that “tougher measures to broadly eliminate collective bargaining rights for public employees” were passed in Ohio and Wisconsin, the Massachusetts bill sounds tougher in all the ways that drove union troops into the streets of Madison.  For one thing, it affects police officers and firefighters, who were pointedly excluded from the Wisconsin reforms that turned its state capitol into a festival of outrageous insults, violent threats, and fraudulent doctors’ notes.

The Massachusetts reforms are said to “save $100 million for cities and towns in the upcoming budget year, helping them avoid layoffs and reductions in services.”  These are precisely the same arguments Governor Scott Walker advanced in Wisconsin, where his reforms were designed to save about ten times as much money.  Supposedly the unions were just fine with demanding increased contributions from their members, to pay for theFor his troubles, he was portrayed as the love child of Hosni Mubarak and Hitler.  Is it too much to ask that the unions of Massachusetts come up with some recent photos of Bashar Assad and Moammar Qaddafi to Photoshop with their legislators?

Apparently it is.  The unions are hardly taking the Massachusetts reforms lying down – they’ve vowing to “fight this thing to the bitter end,” in the words of local AFL-CIO president Robert Haynes, and they’re planning to “unleash a major lobbying blitz with police officers, firefighters, and other workers flooding the State House.”  The difference between a Boston blitz and a Madison circus can be found in piles of garbage and stray bullets scattered around the capitol. 

The difference, of course, is that in Massachusetts the unions find themselves pitted against Democrats, who can no longer serve their interests in denial of fiscal reality, but will not be attacked with the kind of venom sprayed at the hated GOP.  Haynes professes himself to be “stunned” to find restrictions on collective bargaining imposed by “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.”

One other difference between the reforms in Massachusetts and Wisconsin: it doesn’t look like Massachusetts is trying to end the automatic deduction of union dues from employee paychecks.  That couldn’t be what the union bosses really care about, could it?