probably heard this rant, if not on a right wing talk show
then maybe at the water cooler at work, or over a few beers
at the bar:
they go again! Those fat and greedy unions are sticking us
poor taxpayers with their liposuction bills because they’re
too damn lazy to work for a living like us little guys. Why
should they get health insurance? I don’t get health insurance;
nobody gets health insurance. Cosmetic surgery they get with
their health insurance! It’s public school, not “The Swan!”
And we have to pay for it!”
rant was brought to you by a recent article in the Buffalo
News by Lou Michel (“The Public Cost of Vanity,” 8/21/2005).
Although the article does shed light into how cosmetic surgery
came to be included in the unions’ health care packages, it’s
a hanging curveball for right wingers intent on fomenting
anti-union animus at a time when the union movement as a whole
is at a nadir.
you’re not in one of those cosmetically enhanced public employees’
unions, you’ve probably felt compelled to simply nod your
head in agreement to the “unions are to blame for everything”
argument. After all, it’s really hard to argue that such elective
surgeries should be paid for with tax dollars—in fact the
idea sounds totally crazy, until you realize that these privileges
wound up in union health care packages as poisoned fruit.
you are a professional negotiator, your job is to get the
best possible deal for your client. If you’re a health care
provider, you’re looking to fatten your bottom line, not put
it under the scalpel. So it shouldn’t come as any great surprise
that public employees are given an incentive to visit plastic
surgeons. Naturally, the problem is that it gives the unions
a black eye and the taxpayers a thin wallet. But everyone
else makes out.
Buffalo, the push is to force all public employees’ unions
to get their health insurance from a single provider. That
health care provider is none other than BlueCross
BlueShield of WNY, the very same health care provider that
included cosmetic surgery under the unions’ “traditional plan.”
City’s contract negotiator, who ostensibly should have been
the person to sound the alarm about the nip and tuck perks,
Leonard Matarese, was quick to point the finger—not at himself or
at BlueCross BlueShield,
but at the unions. He told the Buffalo News that “There are
a lot of people in the city without health insurance, and
they’re paying property taxes for hair transplants. The moral
thing for police and fire would be to give up cosmetic surgery
so we could afford to put nurses in schools.”
is another sad case of union leadership not realizing that
public opinion has been mobilized against them by the business
elite of this community. The next time they allow this kind
of Trojan horse within the gates, they should check its anatomy.
After all, the monopolistic business leadership in this area
has very little to offer that is both real and fabulous.
1 -- Power? Authority?
Brief 3 -- The Joy of Gioia