NLC Testifies against Federal Collective Bargaining Legislation

By Bomberg, Neil | Nation's Cities Weekly, March 15, 2010 | Go to article overview

NLC Testifies against Federal Collective Bargaining Legislation


Bomberg, Neil, Nation's Cities Weekly


Ellis Hankins, executive director of the North Carolina League of Municipalities, testified in opposition to H.R. 413, the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act of 2009, before the House Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions last week.

The 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. NLC has opposed this legislation since it was first introduced 15 years ago by Rep. Dale Kildee (D-Mich.),

Hankins asked the members of the subcommittee 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. 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.

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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 bill seeks to replace local solutions with a one-size-fits-all national solution," he said.

Hankins added that it would substantially alter the relationship between local elected officials and their employees by forcing every local government to enter into federally sanctioned collective bargaining with their workers regardless of state and local law; it would place serious financial burdens on every state, county, city and town; and it would worsen the precarious fiscal situation states, counties, cities and towns face, thereby threatening the economic recovery currently taking place.

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