After decades of close relationships with the public sector unions working for their towns and cities, mayors are begging to be protected from collective bargaining. With money running out, and undiminished power held by unions, mayors are finally beginning to understand why having powerful public sector unions makes it hard to balance budgets and provide services to citizens.
As negotiations have become deadlocked with public unions demanding more from the ailing cities and towns in Connecticut, the mayors are begging state legislators to change the rules to give them more power in negotiations.
The Wall Street Journal editors write:
Connecticut mayors grappling with rising retirement costs and sinking economies this week issued a distress signal to lawmakers in Hartford: Save us from our public unions.
The state would be in a “stronger position if we don’t negotiate for benefits,” Joe DeLong, the executive director of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, told a committee convened by the legislature to restore fiscal stability and economic growth. The conference of municipalities implored the state to end collective-bargaining for pensions and health-care benefits as well as limit binding arbitration when unions and local politicians deadlock during contract negotiations. This usually results in a sweet deal for the unions.
“We’re suggesting it’s very difficult in the state of Connecticut under the current labor agreements and under binding arbitration,” said Waterbury mayor Neil O’Leary, a Democrat. His town’s health care and pension costs make up 30% of its budget.
Gov. Dannel Malloy, after multiple tax increases, last year tried to close the state’s $3.5 billion deficit by shifting teacher pension costs to municipalities. Mayors warned that this would lead to property tax hikes. The legislature punted some pension payments to the future, but mayors are worried that they will eventually be required to pick up more of the bill.
Read more here.
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