Unions: Mass. outrage on collective bargaining vote

This Dedham firefighter was one of hundreds from across Massachusetts made their way to the State House yesterday.

They took out radio ads and converged on the State House yesterday showing their opposition to the cut of their health care collective-bargaining rights.  

Outside the House chamber, nearly 200 public union members loudly applauded lawmakers who voted against the proposal in a late-night vote and remained silent when those who voted for it walked by.

In their ads, unions threatened that those who supported the proposal would lose union support in the next election.

But some political experts aren’t so sure.

“If they can successfully find candidates to run against those who voted against their wishes … then the threat might have some credence,” said Paul Watanabe, political science professor at UMass Boston. “On the other hand, if it’s a choice of punishing Democrats by simply voting for Republicans, then I’m not convinced Democrats will suffer.”

One firefighter at the State House yesterday who did not want to give his name described the mood of fellow union members as “generally pissed.”

The unions had already planned to come to the State House yesterday to talk to lawmakers prior to  the vote, originally scheduled for yesterday.

“We were coming to them to talk Democrat to Democrat,” said Patrick Rose of the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association. “This isn’t Wisconsin …  we’re not standing on the State House steps, but we might.”

The vote itself

The overwhelming vote by House members gives power to local officials to choose co-pays and deductibles in health care plans and offers union members the chance to provide input. The move, House leaders said, would save municipalities $100 million.

The bill now goes to the Senate. Senate President Therese Murray said yesterday it was undecided how the Senate would handle the proposal.



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