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Left In Lowell » Blog Archive » Open Thread: Too Big To Bargain Edition

Left In Lowell

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December 19, 2011

Open Thread: Too Big To Bargain Edition

by at 5:15 pm.

We are down to the wire.

TIME 6:30 PM


3. Vote - Accept Section 19 of MGL c.32B (Health Care).

But of course, the LHA blame game is sooooooooooooooooo much more important!

Update 2: From the Blog of Record:

LOWELL — The United Teachers of Lowell, the largest union in the city, reached an agreement Monday evening with City Manager Bernie Lynch to joint the Group Insurance Commission, which the manager estimates could save the city $5 million to $9 million in the first year alone.

Both Lynch and Paul Georges, UTL president, confirmed the agreement.

Update: From the Blog of Record:

Months of negotiations have produced a consensus among 14 city-side unions, including police and firefighters. Lynch and union executives deserve credit for getting this done in a unified, civil manner. All that stands in the way of a unanimous agreement is for the United Teachers of Lowell, the city’s largest union, to sign on with other school contingents. The teachers were scheduled to vote today.

If all agree, it clears the way for Lynch and the unions to enter into coalition bargaining en route to joining the state’s Group Insurance Commission, or GIC.

Now there is a catch. If Lowell’s teachers’ union decides not to join the consensus group already in tow, it kills the entire proposed deal. In that case, it would trigger a City Council vote to give the city manager the authority to make health-care program design changes to achieve cost savings. The unions would have limited input in what could become a highly charged and risky process.

Please bargain collectively on this Open Thread.

7 Responses to “Open Thread: Too Big To Bargain Edition”

  1. tryin to stay anonymous Says:

    It is fairly simple, if the teachers say yes, everyone else who works for the city can go willingly. If they don’t …all city employees and retirees will go anyways (with even less input) and the city council forced to take a vote they don’t really want to, especially when they can get the same result without one. Nice to know the decision is in the hands of the one union who wouldn’t make any meaningful concessions over the last few years or give up master medical, when all the other city employees did.

  2. Kathy Says:

    Why isn’t this agreement front page news on the Sun??? I am so sick of seeing stories on the LHA. Who cares? It has no impact on me and sounds like a minor issue that they are trying to make into a major issue but failing. The health care agreement does impact me. This is supposed to save the city millions of dollars! That is huge news and should help me, as a taxpayer. The paper’s sense of what’s news is really lacking. No wonder people make jokes about the paper.

  3. evelyn Says:


    It’s probably not front page news since it was a done deal once the Governor and Legislature changed the law and implemented plan design powers.

    All the City Council would have had to do was adopt the provision requiring it, so “bargaining” to get what we had to take (or else) is not really front page worthy… we were left with no choice but to bargain for(ie. accept) it… or else.


  4. Mike Kern Says:

    Thank god the teachers union finally got on board, 5-9 million dollars is no chicken feed. I agree with Kathy who says “Why isn’t this agreement front page news on the Sun???”. It seems the Lowell Sun misses a lot of important local stories.

  5. Mike Kern Says:

    To Evelyn:

    You don’t think following this story is new people would want to know about? I don’t know all the details, but just from what you said “Legislature changed the law and implemented plan design powers” seems pretty convenient, not that I am complaining. I don’t know all the details because I find out these things on blogs and social media, instead of in my hometown paper.

  6. tryin to stay anonymous Says:

    I am glad the school side unions voted to go willingly. This was the best offer all city employees were going to receive, the writing was on the wall with the passage of the health care reform law. Even if the council didn’t want to cross certain labor groups and retirres voting blocks, the savings were too much to not vote for plan design if coalition bargaining didn’t work. Not to mention three councilors would have nothing to lose as the council is now a lame duck. The five votes were there, even if certain concillors prefered not to have to go on record against the employees for plan design, according to one representative.

    You can bet the Sun will point out the benefits the city employees will receive in this deal just as much as the savings to the taxpayer. All this deal does is pass on cost to the employees in increased copays and deductibles. Hopefully the lower weekly premiums will offset that cost for most people as much as it saves for the city. The deal will affect current workers a little less because they still have earning opportunities. The big “winners” if you can call it, that are the retirees, who would have had a 50/50 split under plan design, increasing from 25% contribution all city workers make now. That would have been a big hit for those on a fixed income who will already struggle with the higher copays for prescriptions and deductibles for hospital care. The mitigation fund will now be guaranteed for three years instead of the one required under the plan design law. That gives retirees a buffer to budget going forward.

    For those who want to complain that labor doesn’t do anything but take, I’d like to point out how cooperative the city unions have been through the recession and how well negotiations have gone with the current manager. Collective bargaining negotiations do work.

  7. evelyn Says:


    Plan design law changes were front page news… Five months ago.

    The Law changed in July and the Lowell City Council put off voting on whether to implement it here in Lowell because it was an election year and no one wanted to alienate any group of voters… they all wanted to be out friend, so they put off the vote until after the election and directed to CM to enter into discussions with the unions for the move. We didn’t get anything for it, so it wasn’t really a “bargain” per say.

    Anti-labor city council candidates were pushing for this two years ago during the 2009 campaign season. Everyone knew the numbers back then and that this would simply shift the rising cost of health care onto the backs of employees.


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