Sunday, May 1, 2011

A Real Surprise in Massachusetts

Have you ever heard the expression “when pigs fly”? Well apparently they are flying in Massachusetts right now. This is one story that really surprised –and pleased- me. 

Up in Massachusetts, a place well known as a “Democrat” stronghold, lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to strip police officers, teachers, and other municipal employees of most of their rights to bargain over health care, saying the change would save millions of dollars for financially strapped cities and towns.

The 111-to-42 vote followed tougher measures to broadly eliminate collective bargaining rights for public employees in Ohio, Wisconsin, and other states. But unlike those efforts, the push in Massachusetts was led by Democrats who have traditionally stood with labor to oppose any reduction in workers' rights.

I am not a big fan of what the unions in this country, for the most part, have become. Don’t get me wrong, I think they are, or can be, an important protection for workers against corporate greed and abuse. If we did not have unions we would still have work houses, unsafe working conditions, children working in mines and 7 day work weeks with no vacations. Unions have very successfully changed the entire landscape of labor in this country, primarily for the better. But, they have a tendency to go way too far and have ruined many a business.

They present a particular problem with public service employees because the labor contracts are negotiated by politicians, who are often more interested in gaining the votes of the union members for their reelection than in getting a good value for our tax dollars.

Apparently the current fiscal crisis gripping the country has got even the Democrats to say enough is enough.

But it will come at a price. Unions fought hard to stop the bill, launching a radio ad that assailed the plan and warning legislators that if they voted for the measure, they could lose their union backing in the next election. After the vote, labor leaders accused House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo and other Democrats of turning their backs on public employees.

Personally, I applaud the Massachusetts legislature for doing the right thing and standing strong for once. It has me thinking that there may be hope yet….

Civil War
150 years ago today:
Stonewall Jackson
Lee had taken command of the Confederate forces around Richmond. He ordered Thomas Jackson (who will soon earn the nick name :Stonewall") to seize and remove all federal arms stored at the arsenal at Harper's Ferry.

A few years earlier, Lee, who was still a Colonel in the American Army (the name "Union" was not yet used)- had commanded the troops that saved these same supplies from John Brown and his men when they tried to use them to foment a slave rebellion through out the south.

Live Long and Prosper....

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