This column presents facts regarding the United States Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Wisconsin State Constitution, and various other documents in reference to modern topics. Mark hopes to encourage interest in those works so that others can consider whether our government is practicing within its constitutional limits. In the last category, he may indicate his opinion. Mark is a resident of New Berlin. Readers are encouraged to visit the following sites for more information on the United States Constitution and Thomas Jefferson's views on politics and government.
According to Wall Street Journal/AP June 17, 2010
The Senate is moving closer to passing legislation that would require states to grant public-safety employees, including police, firefighters and emergency medical workers, the right to collectively bargain over hours and wages.
The bill, known as the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act, would mainly affect about 20 states that don't grant collective-bargaining rights statewide for public-safety workers or that prohibit such bargaining. State and municipal associations, as well as business groups, oppose it, saying it will lead to higher labor costs and taxes, at a time of budget deficits.
The bill, backed by at least six Republicans in the Senate, prohibits strikes and leaves to states' discretion whether to engage in collective bargaining in several areas, including health benefits and pensions.
If the legislation passes and states choose not to grant the minimum collective-bargaining rights outlined in the bill, the Federal Labor Relations Authority, which oversees labor-management relations for federal employees, would step in and implement collective-bargaining rights for these workers.
More public-sector workers belonged to a union than private-sector workers last year for the first time ever. The Senate bill was originally introduced in the current Congress by Sen. Judd Gregg (R., N.H.) and the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D., Mass). In May, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) tried to attach the bill to a $59 billion supplemental disaster-relief and war-spending bill that ultimately passed. Jim Manley, a spokesman for Mr. Reid, said that effort failed because of procedural reasons. "It's a possibility…in the next couple of weeks," it could advance as a freestanding bill or an amendment to another bill, he said.
"If states and localities have chosen not to go in the direction of collective bargaining, that should be their right to do so," said Neil Bomberg, a lobbyist for the National League of Cities. Currently, 15 states don't grant collective-bargaining rights to public-safety workers on a statewide basis, two states, Virginia and North Carolina, prohibit such workers from bargaining, and four states allow collective bargaining for firefighters but not for police.
State vs. Federal Authority
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
We the People:
Federal interference in labor commenced long before the collective the bargaining privileges issue boiled over in Wisconsin. Such attempts exceed the Constitutional authority of federal officials and override state’s prerogatives. When government unions finance our lawmakers’ campaigns and operate as a voting block, an obvious conflict of interest appears. When lawmakers know we vote based on the tenth amendment, the problem will be resolved.