3/6/11

Modernize Collective Bargaining

Looming bankruptcy prompts labor-states to reform of out-of-date pro-union statutes
Tens of thousands of people converge on the Statehouse. Pro-union forces chant slogans denouncing the governor. Anti-union protesters are heckled, ridiculed, and in some cases threatened.

It happened in Madison, Wis., over the past three weeks. But could it happen here in Massachusetts?

Absolutely, say people on both sides of the debate, which erupted when newly elected Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, proposed a bill to mondernize collective bargaining for public employee unions.

A similar bill is expected to be proposed in New Hampshire next year.

"If (New Hampshire) House Speaker Bill O'Brien thinks he was elected to dismantle collective bargaining, then the Republicans got the wrong message from voters at the last election," said Mark MacKenzie, a retired Manchester firefighter who now leads the state's AFL-CIO. "They are going to cause a lot of damage. If we have to fight like Wisconsin, we'll fight like Wisconsin."

Even in Massachusetts, where Democrats control the Legislature, the lessons of Wisconsin are taking root.

"For three years now, taxpayers have been asked to make sacrifices in our own homes ... while people in the public-sector unions are unwilling to make any sacrifices at all," said Christine Morabito of Haverhill, a member of both the Merrimack Valley and Greater Boston tea party groups. "They are only being asked to make small concessions, and they aren't even doing that.

"We need to get rid of collective bargaining, mainly for pensions and health care. The states and federal government have made promises they can't possibly keep, and the taxpayers are on the hook for all this money."
(from eagletribune.com)

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