The retirees have apparently decided to sue the Town of Middleborough for the increase of their insurance coverage contribution. The Town employees were given pay increases to cover their increased costs of coverage, but the retirees--many of whom are on a fixed income--received absolutely no increase from the Town.
Actually, this issue was raised at the last Town Meeting, where the retirees asked that each retiree be frozen at the contribution they were making upon their retirement. If they were at 80/20 they would stay there. If they were at 90/10 they would stay there. The Town Meeting voted to favor this plan, but Town's labor counsel said the vote was unenforceable and could only be treated as a referendum. The BoS promptly took that advice as their license to screw the retirees.
Why do I say they decided to "screw" the retirees? It seems a cynical view. Well, it is backed by fact. When I was on the BoS, there was a discussion as to whether to do collective bargaining under 32B. This would have actually ENSURED as a matter of law that the retirees would have a seat at the table witth the Town. I was in favor of that, but the Town's labor counsel, and the other selectmen did not want to be subject to mediation or to negotiating with the retirees, that labor counsel said we could simply force to contribute additional amounts. Long before Town meeting, the Selectmen had decided to sacrafice the retirees, and do a dollar swap with the current employees.
You may not understand that many of the retirees have pensions that do not even come close to those that our past TM retired with. Many retired at $30,000 - $40,000 pensions that do not leave them room to lose even small sums of money. They served the Town, retired, and never expected that they would have to pitch in more money to have insurance coverage. This was a reasonable expectation, and one which the BoS strategized to ignore.
It also makes no sense. There are a set number of retirees in any one class of contributors if you set their rate as of the date of retirement. By definition, that group is a shrinking group as they die off. The Town, by increasing the employee contributions will save significant money.
Insurance rates have increased by approximately 10-12% per year, and the Town has given out 1 1/2 - 2 1/2% increases to current employees in return for concessions on the contributions. But it is clear that the savings to the Town will quikly out pace the increases given to current employees in the dollar swap. That savings could be shared with the retirees to pay for the additional contributions sought from these retirees. Since their numbers are dwindling as they die, the savings to the Town will slowly continue to increase as the retirees die off.
What is the problem sharing the savings with the retirees that served this Town honorably for years at salaries much more modest than those currently being paid. The BoS set them up and they are hiding behind Town Labor counsel to avoid the political fall out.
Elections are coming and the retirees are a force. My opinion is don't vote for Spataro, Brunelle, or Rogers in the next election. In my opinion, they are no friends of yours, and they have known since months before Jack retired that were going to screw the retirees--because they could.
Go get 'em!