The Sign of Leadership

Last week, the RI House Labor Committee reviewed two bills:

In both cases, the views were sharply divided, with labor supporting and cities and towns opposing a bill that would allow municipal employee collective-bargaining contract terms to continue after a contract expires and also allow monetary issues in those contracts to be decided in binding arbitration.
The positions were reversed on the prevailing wage bill, with cities and towns supporting and labor opposing a change that would raise the threshold at which the state and municipalities must pay prevailing wages from jobs costing more than $1,000 — a figure set decades ago — to those costing more than $500,000.

The latter bill would have allowed local governments to hire labor at the actual prevailing wage — that which the market had determined for a particular occupation and which most purchasers of the particular service (those not subject to union political pressure) typically pay. The former bill would have been a marker of the end of Rhode Island.
Of course, the article ends with that marker of Rhode Island leadership:

The committee held both bills for further study.

And so, we’ll stagger along, neither improving our civic circumstances nor opting for a quick death. Perhaps the state should change its motto to “held for further study.”

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Patrick
Patrick
11 years ago

I can’t believe that a contract can continue even after it’s expired.
I think one of the smartest things a school committee could do is to make the end date of a contract to be June 30. Then when the contract ends, simply tell the union, “your services are no longer needed” and start hiring its own teachers through July and August. I’m guessing it wouldn’t be a problem filling those positions.

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
11 years ago

I have always thought that I would not take politicians seriously until they were prepared to tackle prevailing wage (loosely, but accurately, defined as union wage).
This bill would not eliminate prevailing wage, but raising the threshold is a good start. Taxpayers do not realize the cost to them. An example. Some years ago, when I was paying $35.00 a foot for sewer line on private proeprty, my town brought to a vote bonding for public sewer. The cost advanced was $180.00 per foot. Granted that working in the street is more costly with repaving, etc. But a significant portion is police details and prevailing wage. Don’t want to “play along”? Fine, we won’t let you “plate” the excavation and force you to backfill every night, then reopen it every morning. After that, we will decide you need more police details and off site storage of excavated materials. (Ask workers how much good police details do)
I know small contractors who will not bid state and city work. How are they going to explain to their guys that on one job they are “worth” a higher wage, but less on private sector work.
Some larger contractors maintain two operations, one to bid public work, another to bid private work. Unions refer to these as “double breasted contractors”. Unions tirelessly attempt to “bust” those contractors. Prevailing wage removes the economic incentive to hire non-union workers.

Kathy
Kathy
11 years ago

When a contract expires, it expires. That’s why there is a beginning date and an ending date. Unreal, con artists.

BobN
BobN
11 years ago

Actually, another very important bill is being heard in the House tomorrow, March 30. It is the Right to Work bill H5881 sponsored by Reps. Trillo, Brien, Chippendale and Reilly.
Once the state-mandated union monopoly over both workers and employers is ended, unions will have to compete on the basis of added value in order to maintain their position. This is a necessary step to putting unions, employers and taxpayers on a level playing field. The combination of this with contract termination upon expiry and ending paycheck withholding for dues will finally force the unions to negotiate honestly and earn their privilege of representing the workers.
That last point is the key: it is the individual workers who have rights, and any privileges that they grant to union representatives to act on their behalf are not “rights” proprietary to the unions. Therefore, in order to protect the individual rights of the workers, a legal system of checks and balances should be in place to prevent the unions from holding the workers hostage, as is the case today.

Dan
Dan
11 years ago

For anyone questioning the fiscal impact of right to work (ending union monopolization of state work forces), compare this per capita budget deficit by state map:
www-958.ibm.com/software/data/cognos/manyeyes/visualizations/per-capita-state-budget-deficit-ma
with this map of right to work states:
http://www.nrtw.org/rtws.htm
How much of it is causation versus correlation is legitimate debate, but anyone who denies an overall parallel based on those maps is blind, delusional, or dishonest. I’m sure Pat Crowley or Tom Sgouros will be happy to take a stab.

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
11 years ago

Dan writes:
“How much of it is causation versus correlation is legitimate debate”
Is it really a debate? Consider that the foreign car companies are locating in Alabama and Tennessee, rather than Michigan where the skilled workforce might be. Climate might also be a factor, huge factories must be expensive to heat. Of course, Alabama needs A/C.

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
11 years ago

Dan writes:
“How much of it is causation versus correlation is legitimate debate”
Is it really a debate? Consider that the foreign car companies are locating in Alabama and Tennessee, rather than Michigan where the skilled workforce might be. Climate might also be a factor, huge factories must be expensive to heat. Of course, Alabama needs A/C.

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