Thanks for your help on municipal health insurance!

Thanks to e-mails and phone calls from thousands of MTA members in less than 24 hours, 50 representatives have co-sponsored an amendment to the House budget to protect the right of unions to bargain over municipal health insurance.

Although the Legislature will not be in formal session during school vacation week, members need to keep the phone calls and e-mails coming urging their representatives to support the Municipal Health Insurance Amendment – amendment 749 – sponsored by Representative Martin Walsh. It is critically important that they hear from as many members as possible.

Phone calls are very effective. You can reach your representative through the House switchboard at 617-722-2000.

E-mails also help. To send an e-mail, click here.

Lobbying in person is the most effective of all. Plan to come to Boston on Thursday, April 28, to talk to your representative about the importance of collective bargaining. MTA is working with a coalition of public employee unions on this issue. Each day during budget week – April 25-29 – members of these unions will come in on different days to lobby. April 28 is Educator Day, though you should feel free to come in any day that week if April 28 is not convenient. Legislators work into the evening during budget week, giving MTA members a rare opportunity to meet with them in person late in the day after work. Check with your local president about transportation options.

The health insurance crisis arose on April 13 when the House released a budget proposal backed by Speaker Robert DeLeo (D-Winthrop) that contains a direct attack on the collective bargaining rights of educators and other municipal employees. The MTA and other unions leapt into action, asking their members to contact their representatives to urge them to co-sponsor the Walsh amendment.

The House plan, modeled on a Massachusetts Municipal Association proposal, would give municipal leaders an unfettered right to increase co-payments and deductibles or move employees into the Group Insurance Commission. No bargaining would be required.

The Walsh amendment, modeled on an alternative plan backed by the unions, would also reduce costs to a level pegged to the GIC, but would require municipalities to bargain with employees and retirees to determine how the savings would be achieved. The Walsh amendment would also set aside a larger share of the savings from these changes to reimburse employees who are faced with very high out-of-pocket expenses as a result of increased co-payments and deductibles.

“We recognize the need to reduce municipal health insurance costs in order to save jobs and protect schools and other local services,” said MTA President Paul Toner. “But we do not agree that the state needs to gut our bargaining rights to achieve that goal.”

A day after the House bill was released, the city of Boston and its municipal unions underscored Toner’s point by agreeing to health insurance changes that will save the city an estimated $70 million over the next four years by shifting some costs to employees.

“We have many, many examples from across the state of unions and municipalities achieving tremendous cost savings through bargaining,” said Toner. “Bargaining isn’t always easy, but it’s the fairest way to reach a balanced solution.”

MTA President Paul Toner's Letter to Legislators

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