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Last updated: August 23. 2013 11:48AM - 40 Views

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In Massachusetts, liberal-leaning Democrats run the government. But to its credit, the Democratic-controlled Legislature has acted to bring spending of taxpayer money under control by voting to curb collective bargaining rights on health care for municipal employees.These otherwise public union-friendly lawmakers are acknowledging taxpayers are not a bottomless pit of cash, and there are limits on how much government can dole out.Employee costs swallow the bulk of government budgets at all levels, here and in Massachusetts. One of the primary reasons is their collective bargaining power, giving them the ability to bend all manner of benefits policies and rules in their favor. So a Democratic-controlled state government restricting collective bargaining is telling. It makes claims from those opposing these efforts in Republican-controlled states such as Ohio ring empty.Those opposed to Ohio Senate Bill 5, which would limit collective bargaining for this state's public employees, have made numerous charges about the intent behind the bill. We've heard that crushing public unions is part of a nationwide conservative blueprint for political dominance. We've been told forcing public employees to live with the same realities the rest of us do would crush the middle class. The truth is this: States cannot afford to continue without addressing their major budget expense, employee compensation and benefits.Still, it's been easy for some to believe the opposition to efforts like Senate Bill 5 because it's been those mean, anti-union Republicans pushing them. Now a union-friendly, Democratic-controlled state is taking similar steps.The Massachusetts House and Senate still must resolve slight differences in the bills each passed with overwhelming votes. But it is expected that what emerges will authorize mayors and other local officials to move workers into the state's health insurance plan or design their own plans, resulting in substantive savings regardless of whether workers oppose it. The governor indicates he is eager to sign what the legislature sends him.Although neither bill goes as far as the Republican-controlled legislatures in Ohio or Wisconsin did to roll back public workers' collective bargaining rights, Massachusetts' action is significant because it comes at the hands of Democrats.Only since the 1980s have Ohio government workers enjoyed collective bargaining, which not only results in unaffordable pay and benefit packages, but establishes unjust monopolistic leverage for government workers who already enjoy civil service protections. In effect, collective bargaining politicizes government workers, one of the ills civil service was intended to prevent.Moreover, unlike private unions that negotiate for how much they will receive from a company's limited profits, public unions negotiate over how much legislators will take from taxpayers. In effect, tax money finances public worker union dues that finance legislators' election campaigns, giving unions significantly more clout than taxpayers.Ohio Democrats and public sector unions are pushing hard to get a repeal of Senate Bill 5 on the November ballot. Given the economy and now steps taken in a Democratic state, they're going to have a hard time convincing taxpayers they should give more while receiving less.



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