MILWAUKEE At least one Massachusetts labor leader wants Wisconsin Democrats to know Governor Deval Patrick is a union friend despite their own political spat back in the Bay State this week.
Just before the governor addressed a Democratic dinner in Milwaukee, Massachusetts AFL-CIO President Robert Haynes issued a statement defending Patrick against possible criticism after the Massachusetts House voted this week on a budget that sought to change health insurance programs for municipal workers.
Patrick has filed his own cost-saving proposal, and both he and Senate President Therese Murray have withheld commenting on the details of the House budget.
Haynes appears to be trying to maintain their support for any final deal.
The statement said:
"In Massachusetts we are engaged in a public debate about addressing the rising cost of health insurance, broadly, and doing so without taking away collective bargaining.
"Labor and Governor Deval Patrick agree on the principles necessary for municipal health care reform: that municipalities see cost savings, and that labor maintain a meaningful role in that process through collective bargaining.
"Our governor actually filed a bill that incorporates and respects the role of unions in municipal health insurance reform.
"The Massachusetts Senate is also on record to reform municipal health insurance through collective bargaining having passed such legislation twice in a past session.
"Further, our governor is an outspoken and clear supporter of unions and collective bargaining. He signed legislation in 2007 enhancing the ability of employees to organize unions and bargain collectively.
"He was also one of the first governors to sign onto a letter supporting similar federal legislation. He has publicly stated and restated his respect for and support of collective bargaining. He is unabashed in the credit he gives to his mother's union job in helping lift his family out of poverty in Chicago.
"He said publicly as recently as this week that he would not sign a bill anything like (Wisconsin) Governor (Scott) Walker's bill.
"With a state Senate and governor consistently on the record in favor of municipal health care relief and collective bargaining, we are confident that we will ultimately pass legislation that provides for municipal health care reform and insures that collective bargaining will remain strong for the working families of Massachusetts."
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.