Massachusetts Democrats have now joined Republicans in Wisconsin, Ohio, and elsewhere in taking on public employee union benefits. Last night, the Democrat-controlled House voted 111 to 42 to strip teachers, police, and other municipal workers of their right to bargain over health care. The measure doesn’t go nearly as far as the GOP-sponsored efforts to limit public employee bargaining rights in other states, but it marks the first time Democrats have tackled the issue. And the unions are not happy. Robert J. Haynes, president of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, told the Boston Globe:
It’s pretty stunning. . . . These are the same Democrats that all these labor unions elected. The same Democrats who we contributed to in their campaigns. The same Democrats who tell us over and over again that they’re with us, that they believe in collective bargaining, that they believe in unions. . . . It’s a done deal for our relationship with the people inside that chamber.
The measure could still die in the Massachusetts Senate. Nonetheless, such a move would have been unthinkable for Democrats anywhere even a year ago.