Deval’s dance with labor

By DAVID S. BERNSTEIN  |  December 13, 2006

Government employees, beware
Kirwan’s history, particularly as a Republican-administration negotiator with Massport’s employees, is of special concern to government-employee associations. Its members are conspicuously absent from the transition team’s relevant working groups: there are no teachers’ union reps on the K-12 education group; the local-government group consists exclusively of mayors — i.e., the management end of municipal labor-management negotiations; and the transportation group has none of the many unions representing the MBTA and MTA employees.

This might suggest that Patrick intends to pressure those unions, including the notoriously recalcitrant teachers, into accepting some major changes.

For the past 16 years, their self-protective unions and our openly hostile governors have barely spoke, let alone seriously negotiated. Meanwhile, labor and its related costs — health care and pensions in particular — are soaring in state and municipal budgets; and reform stalls in education, public works, the courts, and other areas.

If Patrick and his inner circle have concluded that true reform requires concessions from these groups, he might just be in a position to accomplish it — in a “Nixon opening China” way, as one labor insider says.

That’s because these labor groups have been able to hold sway over the Democrats in the legislature, who have expressed no interest in helping the Republican governors paint the unions as the problem — and no difficulty dismissing those arguments as Republican rhetoric.

But if Democrat Deval Patrick, with his landslide victory, says that the unions need to make concessions in the name of reform, it will be hard for legislators to oppose him — without looking like they’ve been bought and paid for themselves.

Whether this reflects Patrick’s thinking is, at this point, pure conjecture. We’ll know much more after he unveils his cabinet appointments.

On the Web
David S. Bernstein's Talking Politics: http://www.thephoenix.com/talkingpolitics

< prev  1  |  2  |  3  |  4  | 
  Topics: Talking Politics , Doug Rubin, Deval Patrick, Massachusetts Teachers Association,  More more >
| More


Most Popular
ARTICLES BY DAVID S. BERNSTEIN
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   MRS. WARREN GOES TO WASHINGTON  |  March 21, 2013
    Elizabeth Warren was the only senator on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, aside from the chair and ranking minority, to show up at last Thursday's hearing on indexing the minimum wage to inflation.
  •   MARCH MADNESS  |  March 12, 2013
    It's no surprise that the coming weekend's Saint Patrick's Day celebrations have become politically charged, given the extraordinary convergence of electoral events visiting South Boston.
  •   LABOR'S LOVE LOST  |  March 08, 2013
    Steve Lynch is winning back much of the union support that left him in 2009.
  •   AFTER MARKEY, GET SET, GO  |  February 20, 2013
    It's a matter of political decorum: when an officeholder is running for higher office, you wait until the election has been won before publicly coveting the resulting vacancy.
  •   RED BLUES: SCOTT BROWN EXPOSES THE EMPTY MASSACHUSETTS GOP BENCH  |  February 15, 2013
    It wasn't just that Scott Brown announced he was not running in the special US Senate election — it was that it quickly became evident that he was not handing the job off to another Republican.

 See all articles by: DAVID S. BERNSTEIN