Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Nebraska Legislature: CIR Hits the Floor

Is it "the answer"? Not from what I know so far.

The Commission on Industrial Relations is where disputes are resolved between governing bodies and public sector unions. Public sector workers are not allowed to strike. In return, they have the option of the CIR, which resolves cases by looking at what workers doing the same job in "comparable" jurisdictions in other states are paid. Governing bodies also can take disputes to the CIR, but usually its labor that is not satisfied with what management is offering.

My argument against the CIR is that it removes negotiating authority -- and the responsibility to establish spending and tax policy for local constituents -- from local elected officials and gives it to an unelected state aency. Then that state agency relies on a mathematical formula based on deals done by politicians and unions in other states. So the spending level and tax burden applied to local Nebraska communities is determined by unions and politicians in other jurisdictions that are not accountable to Nebraska taxpayers. It smacks of taxation without representation.

The proposal before the legislature would require the CIR to consider benefits and pensions as well as pay when evaluating and comparing compensation of NEbraska public sector workers with their counterparts in comparable jurisdictions. That makes sense, but CIR rulings still would be binding on local officials.

A key feature of State Senator Tony Fulton's reform bill is to make CIR findings recommendations rather than binding rulings. That would leave final authority for such decisions wehre it should be -- at the local level in Nebraska.

The proposal before the legisalture seems to give more power to the CIR and remove what little power lcoal officials have.

Once advanced to the floor for debate by the entire legislature, a bill can be amended into whatever form a majority is willing to support. Let's see what happens.

1 comment:

Omaha Fire fighter said...

Mr. Maxwell, how would a CIR recommendation work if the municipality decides it just doesn't want to increase salaries or benefits for its employees. Would the employees just be out of luck? Couldn't the city govt. just not ever listen to the CIR recommendations and hold out on fair compensations for several years at a time?