President O’Brien’s Testimony at GIC Hearing (1/25/18)

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.

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    • Joe Pecci on February 7, 2018 at 5:24 pm

    Now that the health and welfare fund has been farmed out, will that be next on the chopping block?

    • Joe Pecci on February 7, 2018 at 5:22 pm

    Now that the health and welfare fund has been farmed out, does that mean its next to be chopped off?

    • jcmbta on January 30, 2018 at 9:29 am

    Hello JOE,

    with your comment on the national health care for all .. you should do some reading on how this works in England.
    what i had found is heath care workers [nurses, doctors] wages are regulated by the government.. very low income , so the quality is not good…
    they also have the government decide , if you will have that care/operation NOT YOU ! long time delay people die waiting for the care [cancer]..

    when you reach a certain age you are not gonna get all the care like in the USA.. your totaled , like driving an old car and it gets damaged.

    the wealthy in England come here for health care or do not in any way be part of that government health care system..
    then when you die they will take all your assets to cover the cost of what your life heath care of the government provided .

    some politicians say free heath care ,,, not free … not good care ..

    • Joe on January 29, 2018 at 1:20 pm

    To hell with health insurance companies. We need a national healthcare law like the other major industrial World. Vote democratic and get the power back to the people. The plutocrats are now running our country into a society of masters and slaves. ENOUGH!

    • jcmbta on January 29, 2018 at 10:01 am

    the union members voted for the removal of the health benefits in contract , for a big raise .
    so who is responsible for this ? union , gov Patrick, dimms ??

    IMO all ! not long from now , no health care benefits , not in contract .
    union has to support the pols , give them envelopes full of cash , so this health care is back in the contract…
    Or have all the unions join together and shutdown the state …

    • Dianne Knecht on January 26, 2018 at 10:04 pm

    Well originally I had FREE health insurance because that was what the contract said I would have when I retired! Ok so after 9 years of free health insurance I have to join the GIC and pick an insurance, I investigate and pick Harvard Pilgrim. Now HEY we are taking your health insurance away so pick one of these two! Who is making out on this deal? Not the people who pay for everyone else’s insurance!!! This is BS!!

    • Anthony on January 25, 2018 at 11:29 pm

    Give us back the Blue Cross health insurance we used to have, or force the legislature to give up Blue Cross and be under the same insurance MBTA employees were forced on to.

    • Allen J White Sr on January 25, 2018 at 2:46 pm

    When I first started working for the T. I thought it a blessing that my family and myself would be well cared for in exchanged for my dedication and hard work. For many years we were. Now as a recent retired employee and turning 65shortly.

    I find myself in a masse of confusion. Plans cuts that we’ve been with for decades. With few remaining to
    Choose from. Sad that the Governor has this much hate in his heart. But he’s a multi millionaire,,

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