June 28, 2011

Binding Arbitration = Tax Hike

Marc Comtois

The House and Senate Labor Committees will be conducting simultaneous hearings and votes on binding arbitration laws tomorrow. A fait accompli? Probably.

Tim Duffy, executive director of the Rhode Island Association of School Committees, whose organization opposes the legislation on grounds that it would make local taxpayers liable for the decisions of an unelected panel, said the move by both labor committees to act on the same legislation on the same day "does not bode well for our ability to stop its happening."

"It indicates a deal has been cut between the House and the Senate leadership to pass a binding arbitration bill," Duffy said. "It seems that the teacher unions have convinced legislative leadership that since the fiscal 2012 budget ended longevity bonuses for state employees they should be awarded binding arbitration as a concession. The state gets $4 million in savings and local government gets to pay for it with a new unfunded mandate."

Quid pro quo (OK, enough Latin)...no one should be surprised. We've been warning about it for a while. Why is it so bad, you may ask? Because it basically takes away the ability of school committees or city and town councils to actually negotiate with unions. Instead, the unions can play a waiting game, go to an arbitrator (or arbitration panel) who will, in the best case scenario, cut the baby in half between two proposals. Arbitrators are wont to look at so-called "comparables"--contracts and compensation data from other communities--that inherently benefit unions (someone, somewhere is always paying more) all while ignoring the actual ability of communities (ie; taxpayers) to pay. The end result: taxes go up.

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WAKE UP PEOPLE! Call your reps / senators and tell them you're paying attention. Ask them to justify their position if they intend to support it. Or don't...but don't complain when your local taxes go up because it precisely these types of bills that continually tie the hands of our local leaders.

Posted by: JTR at June 28, 2011 1:15 PM

What's taxing is Anchor Rising boorish attacks on taxes and the inane comments of some of its readers. There's a bit more to the situation than the Neanderthal, "Taxes bad", Tea Party Good"; followed by a couple of self satisfied grunts.

Posted by: OldTimeLefty at June 28, 2011 1:31 PM

OK Swifty...I mean Lefty...enlighten us...what more do we need to know? I don't mind paying taxes but I'm sick and tired of the GA passing the buck to local municipalities so they can continue to curry favor from special interests. Perhaps you should look up inane because it seems to aptly apply to your postings.

Posted by: JTR at June 28, 2011 1:55 PM

Surely you can muster more indignant venom than just that little spurt, Lefty.

Of course, we should turn over all our assets to the state government, and they will return to us our "fair share" after the union bosses take as much as they want.

Since nobody here has taken the position that they want zero taxes, how does Lefty determine what should be the right amount of taxes?

Posted by: BobN at June 28, 2011 2:09 PM

What's the point of "negotiations" if one side can simply sit it out and get a contract through an arbitrator? Why not send a lowball offer first and then sit it out. Why waste all your time negotiating? Go right to the arbitrator. Then, it's basically the arbitrator running the town.

Posted by: Patrick at June 28, 2011 2:09 PM

"There's a bit more to the situation than the Neanderthal, "Taxes bad", Tea Party Good"; followed by a couple of self satisfied grunts."

We're all ears OTL.

Posted by: Max Diesel at June 28, 2011 4:31 PM

I like the idea of including teachers in what firefighters and police have now. Binding arbitration is there because police and firefighters do not strike. Since withholding one's labor is the hammer the worker has and in exchange for giving that up it seems like a good idea to have some mechanism to resolve matters. It is illegal for teachers to strike so instead of having contract talks go nowhere( and this seems to be the tactic of the high priced hired gun lawyers for school committees) and see a contract thrown out ( remember East Providence) with the only real option being to either keep working after having money taken away, hours added to the day, benefits reduced or taken and without a contract or go to jail, I think it makes sense to place the teachers in the same category as police and firefighters by giving them binding arbitration. It's only fair.

By the way, I had to laugh when I read the phrase above "fait accompli" and then the latin phrase "quid pro quo" in the same piece. Those two phrases have been spoken and written by so many today in this full court effort against binding arbitration. Those phrases have been working so hard today that maybe they should insist on some legal protections too.

Posted by: Phil at June 28, 2011 5:34 PM

Yeah, Max, and no brains.

Posted by: OldTimeLefty at June 28, 2011 6:30 PM

I'm enjoying myself. I leave the venom up to you. As long as you are a voice crying in the wilderness you provide amusement. Keep at it.

Posted by: OldTimeLefty at June 28, 2011 6:36 PM

I haven't seen this kind of panic since that Flintstones episode about "The Way-Outs are coming!" People hear it on the radio and think Bedrock's going to be invaded - turns out the Way-Outs are a band.
Remain calm, people. Al-Qaida did not land here, and won't land here tomorrow.

Posted by: bella at June 28, 2011 6:45 PM

Nice try at the BS finesse, Lefty, but the adjectives in your previous post speak for themselves.

You are much more eloquent in what you don't mean to say than in what you do.

Posted by: BobN at June 28, 2011 6:58 PM

New Jersey's position as the gold medalist in property taxes is deeply threatened by this bill. Especially since they have a rayzist rightwing anti-tax NAZI as governor while we have a malleable room temperature IQ retard.
Great job progressives!

Posted by: Tommy Cranston at June 28, 2011 7:05 PM

What people are leaving out, and what Phil misses in his analysis, is that the entire arbitration selection system guarantees compromises and meet-in-the-middle decisions even when compromises are not the fair and just solution. When a city is bankrupt and a teacher's union demands 8% pay increases, giving the union 3% pay increases is not justice - it is financial madness. Any arbitrator who rules in favor of the city will be blacklisted by the unions and will never be selected as an arbitrator again. Not to mention that arbitration is now associated strongly with CBA "rights" and negotiations so most of the arbitrators are heavily in the union camp to begin with. The entire system is corrupt and results in injustice most of the time. Only a truly neutral judge who is free to dismiss a union's claim outright can serve as a valid check on negotiations. Which is precisely why unions push for binding arbitration so that they can get their incremental victories year after year after year from arbitrators who rely upon their continued selections to find work.

Posted by: Dan at June 28, 2011 8:13 PM


What about a worker's right to strike?

Posted by: Phil at June 28, 2011 9:27 PM

Workers should absolutely be able to strike. And the employer should be free to fire them or sue for breach of contract when they do.

Posted by: Dan at June 28, 2011 10:28 PM

Dan, what about when a contract is expired? Then can they withhold their services? I think they should be able to. But at the same time, their employer should be able to lay them all off when the contract is expired as well.

Posted by: Patrick at June 29, 2011 12:32 AM

"Then can they withhold their services? I think they should be able to. But at the same time, their employer should be able to lay them all off when the contract is expired as well."

YES. Absolutely on both counts.

Posted by: Monique at June 29, 2011 8:14 AM

What about a worker's right to strike?

WTF is that?

The right to quit is constitutionally protected.

Striking is a choice.

Posted by: George at June 29, 2011 6:40 PM
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