Patrick: Tone Down Muni-Health Rhetoric

By WGBH News

Apr. 27, 2011

Massachusetts House Minority Leader Bradley Jones, R-North Reading, leaves the House Chambers during a recess at the State House in Boston on Monda. (AP)

BOSTON — Union leaders are reeling after the Massachusetts House voted late Tuesday night to strip police officers, teachers and other local government workers of most of their collective bargaining rights over health care, but Gov. Patrick says he expects the bill to be dialed down in the Senate.
The plan Massachusetts House leaders pushed through late Tuesday night gives unions and local officials 30 days to negotioate health insurance copayments, deductibles and other details. If, at the end of that period, no agreement can be reached, town leaders would be able to raise employees' out-of-pocket expenses unilaterally. But in that case, they would have to give 20 percent of the savings back to the employees in the first year.

On Wednesday, Gov. Patrick tried to assure union-members that they did not face the kinds of threats seen in Wisconsin, where Gov. Scott Walker has passed a bill stripping unions of much of their collective bargaining rights. "This is not Wisconsin," Patrick said. "We're going to have a  meaningful role for labor."

He urged unions and politicians to "dial down the rhetoric."
House Ways and Means Chairman, Democrat Brian Dempsey of Haverill, says the plan would help cities and towns rein in spiraling health care costs.
"We understand that this is a different process that what’s been used in the past, but we also understand that we have not seen the results in the past that we need to see," Dempsey said.
But Bob Haynes, the president of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, says the House bill is unacceptable.
“We’re going to fight this thing until the bitter end. And we suspect that Massachusetts is not the place that takes collective bargaining away from employees,” Haynes said.

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