By Rosalie Tirella
Well, here it is: crisis time again. Last week the Worcester City Council and School Committee met to discuss finances. Next fiscal year’s municipal budget looks grim, with a $26-million gap projected for the Worcester Public School system.
Right off the bat, City Manager Mike O’Brien needs to: CONVINCE THE WPS TEACHERS’ UNION TO EMBRACE REALITY!!!! Embrace reality and join the majority of working Americans and our other municipal unions and start paying (immediately) 25% of their health insurance premiums. Plus higher co-pays.
Teachers! This simple step – paying 25% of your health insurance premium – will save the City of Worcester $3 million! Like I said, the 25% contribution is something that’s been accepted by workers in the private sector for a while now, and the City of Worcester’s clerks and other groups have joined the rest of America.
We Worcesterites, through our city councilors, must pressure the teachers’ union to embrace reality and pay 25% of their health insurance premiums!
I am not anti-union. My grandfather, a Polish immigrant, worked in the mills in Dudley in the 1930s. He was so glad – and proud – when his shop became unionized. He was no longer treated like a slave. He was allowed to earn a living wage. The union did what it was supposed to do – pull his family out of grinding poverty. I have my grandfather’s union card and booklet; I cherish these documents.
During the turn of the last century, teachers and policemen were right up (or down!) there with mill workers. They worked hard for a pittance. Teachers were usually female and unmarried. They were supposed to dedicate their lives to modeling kids’ minds and souls because they had no husband or children of their own to fret over/dignify. It was a notch above indentured servitude. Cops usually lived in the blue collar neighborhoods they patrolled. My mom still remembers a favorite Irish cop whose beat was Green Island. She says he knew everybody in the ‘hood and gave the kids rides! So different from today: half our cops live in the suburbs. I’ve personally been to one’s home: a McMansion with gorgeous in-ground, ceramic-tiled swimming pool, located in the nicer part of Wormtown.
And that’s my point! The unions promised cops and spinsters (yester-year’s teachers!) a living wage. The unions weren’t supposed to create $150,000 salaries for lowly police seargeants, like they do today. They weren’t supposed to create $150,000 salaries for elementary school principals the way they do today in Worcester. These “civil servants” have made out way too brilliantly.
They need to retrench. They need to look at the new economy. They need to be less rapacious. They need to embrace reality! Our teachers – and Worcester’s cops too because they are still paying 20% of their health insurance premiums – MUST PAY 25% of their health care premiums! Plus: higher copays. Pronto!
This is why ICT endorsed Mayor Konnie Lukes. As mayor, Konnie would have gone toe-to-toe with the unions – and won … some sanity.