Mass. Unions Offer Health Care Overhaul Proposal

By STEVE LeBLANC, Associated Press

BOSTON (AP) — Unions representing state and municipal workers are offering their own proposal to cut the cost of health care spending by cities and towns.

The coalition, including the Massachusetts Teachers Association and Massachusetts AFL-CIO, said the plan would save an estimated $120 million in the first year. The plan calls for half of the savings to go back to workers.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Bernice Corpuz reports

In return, they said they want to preserve collective bargaining rights.

The proposal includes some of the elements of a bill filed by Gov. Deval Patrick.

Related: Patrick Health Care Reform 2.0

The Massachusetts Municipal Association, which represents cities and towns, is pushing a tougher measure that would strengthen the hands of municipal officials over health costs.

The unions unveiled their plan at Statehouse news conference on Monday, a day before a public hearing on Patrick’s bill.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

More from Bernice Corpuz
  • CEO

    So, since when can the unions commandeer the Statehouse to hold their news conferences? They are private entities and should use their own facilities. It is just an indicator that unions have more influence at the Statehouse than Massachusetts taxpayers do. It has to stop.

    You’ll also notice that the unions will only offer solutions when they’re backed into a corner. The threat Wisconsin represents to them has them scared. That’s a good thing for taxpayers. We’ve been ripped off by the unions long enough. They’ve made it almost impossible to fire the worst performing workers. They’ve inserted ridiculous work rules into contracts that cost taxpayers millions every year. When they couldn’t negotiate big enough raises, they changed tactics and put taxpayers on the hook for unbelievably generous retirement programs, health care benefits, and even sick day buy backs that allow some employees to retire and get six figure lump sums on the way out the door. We certainly can’t do that in the private sector!

  • Ted

    I agree. They’re nervous and they should be

  • Deep Doodoo

    Liberal politicians play to unions. Unions support liberal politicians. In Massachusetts, the liberal politicians own an unbreakable majority. Who is negotiating on behalf of the rest of us at the bargaining table? No one, and that’s why public employees should not have collective bargaining rights. Other states are starting to get it, but the politicians in Massachusetts will continue to sell the state down the river to keep their seats. And somehow, the non-union voters who support the liberal politicians just can’t seem to grasp that they are being fleeced.

    • Peter

      Perfectly stated. So those of you who invoke Fox News as a reflex response, how do you reconcile the conflict between politicians who rely on the support of unions negotiating across the table from them with public money? Funny how liberals call conservatives lemmings, but then recite the same tired insults to make their point and never answer the substantive questions raised. They can’t, so they resort to name calling.

  • jojo

    I would love to know what you clowns consider “unbelieveably generous retirement programs”… you mean the self-funded pension program they pay into….or are you just spouting the propaganda-laden party line you hear on Fox News?
    So, if people like you are going to continue to criticize unions, EVEN WHEN THEY ARE TRYING TO HELP, why should they bother? Lemmings, all of you…..

    • June

      Most of the pension programs are contributory, but heavily subsidized with tax dollars. The amounts paid in would never support the benefits promised. That’s the whole point of the argument. If the pensions were fully “self-funded”, no one would want to put limits on them.

      You don’t have to watch Fox News to know that, though it might be a good place to start.

  • massman

    jojo is right. This isn’t a union vs. taxpayer fight. This is a working class vs. wealthy fight. Stop watching Fox for christ’s sake. Attacking the wages, benefits, and ability to bargain of working class people, isn’t going to help anyone here, unless they’re a millionaire. They divert your attention from where the real problem is, and you fall for it hook, line and sinker. The right wing has turned your fear into hate once again. Hating public employees. Attacking teachers. How stupid has this country become.

    • roadbowler

      You epitomize stupidity. This IS a union vs taxpayer fight. Public employee unions are fighting for taxpayer funded wages and benefits. The average taxpayer is not rich. If you used the example that private employee unions were fighting the ‘working class vs the rich’ struggle, then you’d be correct.

      Stop watching MSNBC for Obama’s sake!!!!

      • massman

        Yes idiotbowler, you are correct. The average taxpayer is not rich. That includes public employees. Considering the average income for the bottom 90% of us is just over $30,000, I’d say we’re not rich. So you suggest lowering all public employee benefits to more “competitive” figures. What’s funny is, I can remember 5-6 years ago, nobody was going into public work because there was no money to be made. Now, after Wall Street put us into a financial meltdown, and cost most of us large amounts in varying ways, while they walked away bailed out and wealthy, it is time to pay teachers $30,000 a year with no benefits. Makes sense. Are you in favor of the tax cuts which were extended for the wealthy? Fox has probably led you to believe that those cuts will bring us to full employment soon. You can keep believing that busting public employee unions will bring prosperity to the middle class once again. You can believe that attacking unions is all about saving money, and nothing to do with corporate influence like the Koch Bros. And I’ll continue to stick by teachers and other working class employees, whether public, private, union, or non.

  • Laved

    Did it ever occur to you that your neighbor who is also in the “bottom 90%” is tired of paying wages and benefits for public sector jobs that would not be available in the open market? Exposing public sector salaries and benefits to market forces won’t bring “prosperity to the middle class once again”, but the savings will certainly help pay some bills. And as Deep Doodoo said so well, it’s not just a matter of cost savings, it’s a matter of eliminating an obvious conflict of interest for elected officials.

  • Ben

    massman, I see you’re making the typical tactical move liberals do when they can’t win the arguement: NAME CALLING!

    I will concede that here in Massachusetts union workers do contribute to their own retirement and health care. That’s not the case in Wisconsin where the taxpayers are currently footing the entire bill. However, here in Massachusetts we’ve seen all too often union contracts that restrict public employers (funded by the taxpayers) offer perks that you just don’t see in the private sector. Like not being able to fire lazy, incompentent workers. Like my very own teacher’s union that doesn’t allow teachers to offer at-risk students extra help because it isn’t in the contract. Not to mention things like automatic raises with complete disregard to the employee’s performance. The private sector has no such guarantees.

    There was a time when government employees made less money than the private sector and the extra perks leveled the field. That’s no longer the case. Cops making $200K a year? Teachers making $80K to teach 9 months? There is absolutely no reason taxpayers should be compensating THEIR employees better than they are compensated themselves.

    Even worse is the greed of the union executives themselves. The have pretty lavish lifestyles on the backs of taxpayers and from the dues of their union members that you say work so hard and get paid so little. When the MA President of the AFL-CIO who sits on the Board of Blue Cross approves an $11 million golden parachute for their outgoing CEO while he himself collects $72K a year to sit on the Board, it’s hard to take him seriously about the plight of the common man.

  • noabitya

    The employees have their share of pension $$$ deducted from their checks weekly for years yet the states/cities have failed to place their share of $$$ in the pension fund for the last four decades. Instead the Governors/Mayors have illegally used those $$$ for their pet projects & hire their political hacks. On top of that they have borrowed [stole] money from the employees share and have not paid that back. So please know what you are talking about before putting comments knocking the employees and instead ask why not one Attorney General has taken any action againt these politicians for their illegal actions. If it happened to you in the private sector you would all be demanding action.

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