Education Collective Bargaining Bill Criticized

In a July 9 editorial, the Washington Post criticizes Governor Martin O’Malley and the Maryland General Assembly  for the passage of the Fairness in Negotiations Act (HB 243/SB 590).  The bill, which MACo opposed, creates an independent and binding labor relations board to resolve labor disputes between teachers and other education employees and local board of educations.  The Post worries that the legislation creates an unfair advantage for education unions and could lead to an unsustainable level of salary and benefit spending.

The Fairness in Negotiations Act attracted little attention when it was passed by the General Assembly and signed into law in May by the governor. But it has major implications for school labor contracts, and they are not positive. …

This new board’s decisions on wages, benefits and even what matters can be collectively bargained will be binding. That is a power that the state education board never had in resolving disputes. Local school boards and counties, which opposed the bill, are right to worry that binding awards could force counties to accept contracts they can’t afford. …

Now, just as many states are plunging into fiscal distress in part because they have granted overly generous pension and health benefits to their workers, Maryland’s governor has seen fit to change a system that worked and to weaken the bargaining leverage of those who represent taxpayers.

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