White House Weighed in on MA Union Bill

White House Weighed in on MA Union Bill

Back in April, shortly after Massachusetts' Democrat-controlled House, at the bidding of the state's Democratic governor, Deval Patrick, passed a decidedly un-Democrat-like bill curbing the collective bargaining rights of public employees, the governor received a concerned phone call from the White House. 
 
"There was no message," Patrick said as he signed collective bargaining changes into law last week. "They were just checking in." 
 
But at the time, President Obama, a friend and political ally of the governor, had been using the union-busting efforts of Republican governors like Wisconsin's Scott Walker to fire up the Democratic base.  
 
"It would be very difficult for the president and Democrats in Washington to use [Governor Scott] Walker as a foil, if Massachusetts, a Democratic state with a Democratic governor," was also inciting union protests, said Peter Ubertaccio, a political scientist at Stonehill College. 
 
The bill Patrick ultimately signed, however, isn't as tough as the one passed by the House in May or by Republican-led states like Wisconsin. While it does curb the collective bargaining rights of teachers, firefighters, and other municipal employees, thanks to last-minute changes negotiated by Patrick it also cushions seriously ill workers and retirees from significantly higher health care costs and limits the ability of local governments to make sweeping public employee health plan changes without union approval. 
 
Robert J. Haynes, president of the AFL-CIO of Massachusetts, who'd vowed in April to "fight this thing to the bitter end," said labor unions supported the governor's final plan. 
 
"Finally, in the endgame, we still get to sit down with municipalities and bang out and bargain what health care looks like in that city or town," he said. "That's all we ever wanted, was to have a voice." (BOSTON GLOBE) 

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