I’ve heard the criticism about the Suzanne Bump supporters – that we’re only dissing other candidates and have nothing positive to say about our own candidate, and I accept the challenge. As odious as I find Guy Glodis, and as unprepared as I find Mike Lake, what really motivates my support for Suzanne Bump is her ability to make government work better. Let me give you three examples.
When she was House chairman of the Commerce and Labor Committee, Suzanne took on the special interests that benefited from a workers’ compensation system that kept injured workers in abject poverty while imposing crushing costs on Massachusetts businesses, and she led the legislative fight to reform the system. As a result, this is how one commentator describes the Massachusetts workers’ compensation system today:
It is no fluke that some states with the highest workers’ comp insurance costs like New Jersey, New York and Montana also have very low benefits. Low benefits paid to workers do not guarantee low insurance costs. Injured workers receiving low weekly indemnity benefits do not prevent the system from being very litigious.
Nor is it an accident that Massachusetts, where collaboration between regulators and carriers has been relatively good, has very low insurance costs and very high wage replacement benefits.
Did Suzanne take on risks in waging this fight for reform? Did it take guts to do this? Absolutely. And I’m sure we’ll hear about how some benefits for workers were cut in that process. But, today, according to that commentator cited above, Massachusetts is the number 1 state in the nation in terms of benefit generosity and low insurance costs. That’s something concrete, accomplished by Suzanne Bump, and something that makes a real difference here in Massachusetts.
That same commentator made another point about Massachusetts, based on more recent activities:
More recently, Massachusetts launched a program to root out fraud in which employers underreport the amount of employee exposure, and thus avoid buying their fair share of workers’ comp insurance.
Once again, that’s Suzanne Bump’s work, almost twenty years later, as Secretary of the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development. That’s referring to the Joint Task Force on the Underground Economy and Employee Misclassification. Check it out, and check out the Joint Task Force’s Annual Report. The underground economy is the myriad array of businesses that willfully and intentionally avoid labor, licensing, and tax laws. Those businesses in the underground economy fail to pay for unemployment and workers compensation for their employees. They exploit their workers and gain an unfair competitive advantage over their competitors. One of the reasons that State government has failed to adequately address this problem is the mentality of many government bureaucrats, who sit in and protect their own little silo and never cooperate or share information with other state agencies. Suzanne Bump, through the Joint Task Force, addressed this problem head on. She started small, with just 9 member agencies, but, because of its success, there are now 17 state agencies, including representatives from multiple constitutional offices, who are a part of the Joint Task Force and are achieving results, protecting workers, punishing illegal employers, and increasing state revenues. This isn’t a pie-in-the-sky idea from academia. This is something real, concrete, and again something that works. And Suzanne Bump is one important reason why we have this program that has become a national model.
My final example. The Commonwealth’s public sector labor relations system had long been comprised of three separate agencies, at least one of which had dated back over 100 years. Back in the 1980’s, Governor Dukakis commissioned an expert study that recommended consolidating the three agencies. But it never went anywhere. Back in the early 1990’s, Governor Weld advocated such a consolidation. But, once again, it never went anywhere. When Governor Patrick took office in 2007 and appointed Suzanne Bump as his Secretary of Labor, they found the three public sector labor relations agencies suffering from neglect, dispirited employees, and a backlog of cases to rival any backlog in state government. Suzanne Bump went to work, created a plan, got buy-in from the public sector labor and management communities, and the Legislature, and, in consolidating and reforming those agencies, achieved what should have been done 30 years ago. The results speak for themselves. If you don’t believe me, take a look at the new Division of Labor Relations Annual Report. Once again, this is something concrete that Suzanne Bump actually accomplished — reforming, consolidating, and improving state government.
Now I could go on and on about Suzanne’s other accomplishments as Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development, or her work in starting up businesses and non-profits, but you can go to her website if you want that information. You may prefer another candidate, or you may be too involved in another campaign to pay attention, but you can’t deny that Suzanne Bump is one incredible woman. Just imagine what she could achieve as State Auditor.