Many cities simply cannot afford to give their public employee workforce a raise this year. Yet raises are virtually hardwired into state law by a 2011 bill. The bill says when cities and labor reach an impasse in contract negotiations labor can demand a “nonbinding fact-finding inquiry.”
CoCo Times’ Borenstein hits on a truth first explained locally by former City manager Bob Deis: these negotiators want to get hired again, so they’re solution is often a political compromise irrelevant to a city’s inability to pay.
” … they cannot alienate unions if they want to receive business elsewhere,” Borenstein writes. “Consequently, the costly, time-consuming process produces biased findings devoid of common sense that place additional political pressure on elected officials to make concessions they cannot afford.”
Cities can still impose a contract. But they have to jump through the arbitrator hoop. Labor has learned it can drag out the process. Meanwhile, the clock is ticks, and cities rack up millions they could save if only they could manage their own fiscal affairs. The story here.