March 28th, 2004


Big Labor's conspiracy theory

There's a transit strike in the Twin Cities. The transit worker's union has been insisting that their members continue to get lavish benefits at no cost, including having retirees fully covered after 10 years' employment. These benefits are much better than nearly all other workers get, and the Metropolitan Council that runs the system is saying they can't afford it any more.

The union recently met with the Council's non-bargaining members and tried to get them to see things the union's way, and got rebuffed. Now, they, and the left-wing Minneapolis Star-Tribune, are hinting strongly at dark doings between the council's HR director and his wife, CEO of the council's health insurer - despite the fact that the council signed up with the insurer, HealthPartners, before the husband went to work for the council, despite the fact that he's removed himself from any discussion or negotiation on the subject, and despite the fact that all contracts with the council are done on a sealed, low-bid basis.

I got so irritated that I sent in this letter to the Star-Tribune...I doubt they'll print it, but stranger things have happened:

Amalgamated Transit Union president Ron Lloyd just doesn't get it when he implies that there must be some hanky-panky going on between the Metropolitan Council and HealthPartners. There's another simple, viable explanation for why the council wouldn't discuss the union's demands: those demands are unreasonable and wildly out of line with the realities of today's world.

Transit workers are no more entitled to extravagant health benefits than any other worker. Their current deal is simply too good, and much better than anyone else is getting. Their insistence on retaining those benefits is the real stumbling block in negotiations.

Wake up and smell the coffee, Ron. I pay $293 a month in health insurance premiums out of my own pocket, for single coverage, and won't have anyone paying my bills when I retire. Why should your members have it any better?
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