Finally, some of our traditionally intimidated politicians are showing a bit of common sense on the issue of excessive health benefits for local public workers unions. We’re not there yet, but we’re moving in the right direction.
Health costs are sucking the oxygen out of municipal budgets, necessitating belt tightening that translates into job loss, larger class size, shortened library hours, and shrinking programs.
Mayor Menino then filed a home rule petition in this legislative session allowing Boston to go forward without union approval. That bill is pending.
Rep. Marty Walsh filed a bill to give local officials and the unions 45 days to come up with acceptable cost-sharing arrangements. If they can’t, it would go to arbitration. That’s a recipe for delay and failure. Local officials grappling with cannibalized budgets are desperate to get their workers into the Group Insurance Commission. Frankly, if the plan is good enough for state workers, why wouldn’t it work for local public employees as well? Globe columnist Scot Lehigh absolutely nailed it in his column on why the arbitration approach is dead wrong.
AFL/CIO boss Robert Haynes has linked how legislators vote to union support in the next election. It’s the unions’ right, of course. Still, one hopes that our noble solons have the backbone to keep the plight of municipalities and local taxpayers and residents in mind when they cast their votes on this most important issue.
Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.