News & Events

Public unions are pitching in (MS)

BARRY BLUESTONE (“A future for public unions?’’ Op-ed, July 18) argued that public sector union opposition to reasonable reforms and concessions could endanger us in the long term. I represent human service workers employed by the state and its vendor agencies.

State workers agreed to wage freezes for the past year, recognizing the severity of our fiscal crisis. They actually experienced a significant wage cut, since their share of health insurance premiums jumped 33 percent.

Pensions? Public sector unions have not opposed common-sense reforms. Most state workers contribute more into their pensions than the state does, and are completely dependent on decent pensions, since they are denied Social Security credit for their time as state employees.

Though virtually all Massachusetts state workers are organized, most of the state’s work is outsourced to low-paid workers with minimal benefits. Employees assisting disabled people earn as little as fast-food workers. They often work two or even three jobs to make ends meet.

The decline of manufacturing unions that Bluestone describes was related to their reluctance to organize outsourced workers. Our union is adapting, so I am not worried about our future. I do, however, worry about the future of public services when friends like Professor Bluestone get lost in the anti-government union rhetoric.

Michael Grunko
President, Local 509
Service Employees
International Union