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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Harry Reid's Union payback

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. (Continues here)

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