The Corner

Reid Pushing for Union Bill in Lame Duck

While the Bush tax cut extensions, the DREAM Act, and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell may have dominated coverage of the lame duck session, there’s another important bill that is likely to be voted on: the Public Safety Employee-Employer Cooperation Act.

The legislation, which would force public safety workers (such as firefighters and police) to use collective bargaining (currently not used or banned in 21 states), passed the House as an attachment to an Iraq and Afghanistan war spending bill this summer. Senate majority leader Harry Reid, facing pressure from labor leaders to pass the bill while there are still 59 Democratic senators (although the bill is also supported by six Republican senators), is hoping to bring it to the Senate floor soon.

“This bi-partisan legislation will help ensure that our first responders have the same rights as others to discuss workplace issues,” e-mailed Reid spokeswoman Regan Lachapelle. “We hope to consider the bill this work period.”

So why does this bill matter? Well, with states facing huge deficits, government employee compensation — which constituted half the costs of state and local governments in 2008 — can impact how states choose to balance their budgets. If there’s little ability to decrease or freeze pay and benefits for public employees, states are forced to slash spending elsewhere. And it’s not just current compensation that’s an issue, but future pensions: the Pew Center on States estimates that states already have a $1 trillion gap between what they have set aside for pensions and how much they’ve promised workers.

In addition to exacerbating states’ fiscal woes, the legislation could also increase the number of strikes by public employees and encourage seniority, not merit, as the basis for salary raises.

Considering the impact this bill could have on state budgets, it’s really surprising it hasn’t garnered more attention, especially as — thanks to the handful of Republicans backing it — it’s fairly likely that bill will pass.

Katrina Trinko — Katrina Trinko is a political reporter for National Review. Trinko is also a member of USA TODAY’S Board of Contributors, and her work has been published in various media outlets ...

Most Popular


If Amy Wax Is Wrong, Let’s See the Data

Regarding the kerfuffle Jason Richwine addressed here earlier, the economist Glenn Loury has posted an impassioned plea to his Facebook page. Loury, you may recall, hosts the video blog where Wax made her controversial claim that black students at Penn Law School rarely graduate in the top half of the ... Read More
Politics & Policy

San Francisco Bans Fur Sales

San Francisco has banned the sale of fur. From the CBS-SF story: San Francisco has become the first major U.S. city to ban the sale of fur clothing and products. Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a measure that prohibits the sale of fur clothes, accessories, even souvenirs in stores and ... Read More

For the First Time in Weeks, Relief Sweeps over Austin

Making the click-through worthwhile: The Austin bomber is done in by one of his own devices; some new numbers suggest that a small but significant portion of Trump voters are tiring of the chaos and aren’t showing up to support other Republicans in 2018; and the mixed news for conservatives coming out of the ... Read More

The Baleful Effect of #MeToo on Campus

Remember the series of hurricanes that pounded the Caribbean last summer? Something like that has been occurring on college campuses, as they're hit by one destructive mania after another: diversity, Title IX, anti-speech protests. Now it's the #MeToo Movement. In this Martin Center article, British academic ... Read More
Politics & Policy

A Time for Choosing

This year’s Conservative Political Action Conference was controversial. Invitations to European nationalist populists such as Nigel Farage and Marion Maréchal-Le Pen (the niece of Marine Le Pen) caused many longtime conservatives to question whether they still belong to the conservative movement. Vocal critics ... Read More