Nothing lasts forever

There are two convergent issues gaining in importance everyday as long they remain unresolved.

They are the cost for city paid health insurance for municipal employees both active and retired and the unwillingness of municipal employee unions to negotiate to head off the inevitable.

The inevitable is already here.

The cost for city paid health insurance has risen so high so fast, with no end in the upward spiral in sight, that every city and town in Massachusetts is now facing a harsh fact.

City employees here and everywhere must renegotiate their health insurance benefits packages.

Otherwise, city managers, mayors and town managers will not be able to balance their budgets or pay the tab for city employee health insurance.

Last Monday night at city hall, dozens of deeply concerned city employees past and present converged on city hall. In all, eight city employee union chiefs attended a city council subcommittee hearing on the health insurance issue.

There was mainly concern – but no willingness to change anything.

In this instance, the unions are fighting a losing battle.

Cities and towns can no longer afford to pay huge increases in health insurance premiums.

In fact, the days of wine and roses are over.

The days of cities and towns paying the biggest portion for municipal employee health insurance policies is over.

Union chiefs must understand this – or they are going to fight to lose when the strategy should be to negotiate to win.

In instances where unions refuse to negotiate downward rich payment schedules too much more modest reimbursements for municipal health insurance premiums, all those insured are going to lose.

They won’t lose their health insurance but the cost for it will rise unnaturally, causing a huge disruption among those working as well as those who are retired.

The group of municipal employees that converged on city hall Monday evening was deeply concerned – and they should be.

The world has entirely changed and now municipal employees are being forced to change with it.

Until and unless municipal employees essentially understand this and choose to negotiate rather than to stand firm, their city paid for health insurance is put at risk.

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