My name is James O’Brien, I am the President of the Boston Carmen’s Union, representing over 4,100 hardworking members of the MBTA who drive and maintain the MBTA’s buses, trolleys and tracks. Chances are, a lot of the people in this room got here today thanks to our members.
I also stand here on behalf of more than 2,000 retired Carmen’s Union members who join current employees in their outrage of these changes, and their fear of what these healthcare changes would mean for them, and their belief that this must be reversed.
As I’m sure you can imagine, working as an MBTA driver, operator, or mechanic can bring a number of chronic ailments and health problems that require attention and treatment from physicians.
We estimate that 2/3 of our 6,000 members are enrolled in one of the three plans the GIC has decided to eliminate– 4,000 men and women who are now concerned about the future of their health coverage for themselves and their families and the potentially adverse effects this would cause to their quality of life.
We have already heard from hundreds of our members, and they are all saying the same thing: they are scared of the unknown and what these changes may mean for them and their families, and they have no idea why there is such a rush when there was no public discussion prior to the GIC vote.
I am sure what I am about to tell you is similar to what you have already heard – and will continue to hear – from so many others during these public hearings, but it bears repeating.
Recent changes to the GIC were made behind closed doors with no input from the hardworking men and women who would be adversely affected by this change. It is irresponsible, disrespectful, and disruptive to their lives.
This is a critical issue to so many, but you seem intent to ram it through without regard to the effect of the decisions you have made. Imposing changes and restrictions on an employee’s health care can have a real effect on people’s lives. This is unacceptable. They deserve to have the freedom to choose the health plan that is best for themselves and their families, not have it dictated for them.
By eliminating providers, you have eliminated options.
Holding public hearings after the vote was called and the decision was made does not make up for your lack of transparency and accountability.
What you will hear through the course of these hearings is that you made the wrong decision – and now we are all standing here asking you what you are going to do to correct it.