Reid’s Lame Payback Bill

****UPDATE 12/6/2010**** 

This evening, Senator Reid moved to proceed to the following bills and filed cloture on the motions:

– Calendar #662, S.3991, the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act of 2009 (commonly known as Police -Fire Fighters Forced Monopoly Bargaining Bill);

By unanimous consent, the cloture vote on the motion to proceed to Calendar #662, S.3991 (the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act of 2009) will occur upon conclusion of the impeachment proceedings. We expect to complete the impeachment proceedings Wednesday morning.


Sen. Harry Reid is trying to repay his political debts and is attempting for move legislation that would give union bosses monopoly bargaining power over taxpayer money for police and fireman. The Detroit News adds their thoughts on the deal:

Having survived a near-death experience on Election Day thanks largely to massive donations from labor unions, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is paying back his benefactors. The Democrat from Nevada says that during Congress’ lame duck session he will try to once again force through a measure giving police and fire unions the upper hand in dealing with local communities.

Reid will seek a cloture vote on the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act, which despite its name has little to do with cooperation. Rather, the bill would be a federal clone of Michigan’s disastrous Public Act 312, which is blamed with ruining the finances of scores of communities, including Detroit, and pushing many to the brink of bankruptcy — that’s you, Hamtramck.

The bill would make it easier for police and firefighters to organize labor unions and force all officers to join, even in right-to-work states. That’s a brazen usurpation of state authority, and very likely unconstitutional.

In Michigan, where most major police and firefighters are already unionized, the largest impact would be in rural areas, since the law would also likely apply to volunteer fire departments. That would put most of those volunteer outfits out of business, and destroy an important grass-roots community protection network. These volunteers are often highly trained individuals who provide the only defense for their neighbors’ homes and property.

But the worse part of Reid’s union-buttering bill is that it would codify in federal law a state act that Michigan must get out from under if communities are to regain control of their finances.

Public Act 312 has been horrible for Michigan. The act — as would the Senate bill — requires that contract disputes between public safety unions and municipalities go to binding arbitration. The arbitrator is not required to consider a community’s finances when ordering a settlement, and would not be under the federal legislation, either.

This provision has severely limited the ability of local government to control operating costs. And it’s reduced the incentive of the unions to bargain. Why agree to a compromise contract when an arbitrator might award you the whole enchilada?

The act has been especially harmful for Detroit, where it has forced bad choices. Since the ability to negotiate concessions is so limited, the city’s option has been to reduce public safety manpower, which it can usually do outside of the contract.

Unions have gotten around that relief valve in many suburban communities by sponsoring ballot initiatives mandating minimum staffing levels.

We’ve noted a number of times that PA 312 was the work of the late Coleman Young when he was in the Legislature during the 1970s. When he became Detroit’s mayor, Young rued the act as the worst work he’d ever done.

Taking PA 312 national would amount to another unfunded federal mandate that would further erode the financial stability of communities already on the edge. That’s not what Congress is supposed to do.

We knew there was a reason we were rooting so hard against Harry Reid in the recent election. The Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act is it.