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Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014

The collective bargaining debate

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Discussion and debate are the two of the greatest aspects the First Amendment.

Those tools allow individuals to express their views and hopefully learn a thing or two along the way.

America is learning a lot about collective bargaining of public employees.

Democrats in Wisconsin and Indiana apparently don't believe the bargaining, or lack thereof, over the rights of unionized, public employees collectively represents their state's Congress.

In response, they have collectively retreated to Illinois, according to reports. The Indianapolis Star reported Democrats there left two representatives behind to make a motion and second "for any procedural steps they would want to take to ensure Republicans don't do anything official without quorum."

Meanwhile, teachers and students alike are leaving classrooms in Wisconsin to join the thousands of protesters at the state capitol.

Individuals in California, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and even Iowa are following suit.

While not trying to outlaw collectively bargaining altogether, Gov. Terry Branstad is proposing that health insurance be banned from that discussion, while also giving the governor and legislature the power to overrule an arbitrator.

It comes as no surprise that Branstad wants to remove health insurance from the bargaining table. After all, he did join the lawsuit against the federal government over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, specifically the mandate for employers to provide insurance to their employees.

Being able to overrule an arbitrator negates the purpose of arbitration in the first place. It creates a picture in which the majority sets the policy and arbitration rules against that policy, which the majority can simply overrule.

All of this talk brings up numerous truths that cannot be denied.

Budgets are tight.

Health insurance is expensive.

Collective bargaining is lengthy, especially if arbitration is tacked on to the end of it.

Some state employees are losing their jobs.

Many Americans -- about 9 percent overall -- are still without work.

With all those facts combined, it doesn't quite seem fair for unions to demand raises or special benefits.

It is also not right for states to try to deny collective bargaining altogether.

There must be a solution, right?

Labor Lawyer Randy Levine made this suggestion on the Forbes website: "Eliminate the status quo during the binding arbitration phase. Allow the state employer to implement changes, and allow the union to contest those changes in arbitration."

Levine believes the change would motivate unions to sincerely bargain up front, instead of hiding behind the status quo, while also strongly encouraging the state "to act reasonably or risk having their proposals reversed."

Such a proposal appears to be a viable solution.

Americans, regardless of the state, are clamoring for transparency these days.

Let's put, and keep, the process in the spotlight until actual solutions are found and actual agreements are made.

In the meantime, please debate responsibly.

Gabe Licht
Junior Moments