MANDATORY COLLECTIVE BARGAINING DEAD, FOR NOW
by Carolyn Coleman
Recent efforts to pass mandatory federal collective bargaining legislation (H.R. 413/S.1611/S. 3194) failed. The “one-size-fits-all” bill would require that every state, county, city and town collectively bargain with their police officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and corrections officers, regardless of state and local laws. TML, other state municipal leagues, and the National League of Cities (NLC) have opposed this legislation since it was first introduced 15 years ago.
Last month, the House included the legislation in an amendment to its version of the supplemental appropriations bill (H.R. 4899), which contained much-needed funding for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The amendment also contained billions of dollars in domestic funding.
When the bill returned to the Senate for consideration, the Senate rejected the House's amendment largely because of the additional funding and returned its original version back to the House for consideration. The House eventually passed the Senate version of the bill, which the President signed into law on July 29, 2010.
“NLC will continue to oppose this legislation on behalf of cities and towns on the grounds that it interferes with state and local laws, violates principles of federalism, and may be unconstitutional,” said NLC Executive Director Donald J. Borut.
In a House subcommittee hearing earlier this year, North Carolina League of Municipalities Executive Director Ellis Hankins testified on behalf of NLC and urged the committee not to fix what isn’t broken.
“For centuries, states and local governments have developed procedures for addressing the needs of their employees, taxpayers and citizens,” Hankins testified. “They have done so with and without collective bargaining, through laws that are designed to provide their workers with excellent working conditions, competitive salaries, excellent health and pension benefits, and a working environment that is safe and appropriate.’’ He added that this bill would put the federal government in charge of what has been a state and local function for no compelling reason.Citing the Constitution, Supreme Court decisions, and existing law, Hankins noted that this bill disregards and disrespects the democratic decision making process employed by states and localities to decide how best to interact with their employees.
This article has been reprinted, with permission from the National League of Cities, from the August 16 edition of Nation’s Cities Weekly.