The League is a strong advocate for public-safety binding arbitration reform. Act 111 of 1968 is the current state law that allows for binding arbitration when a collective bargaining agreement cannot be reached between a municipality and its police officers and firefighters. Arbitration is offered in exchange for a prohibition against striking.
Act 111 binding arbitration should remain part of the municipal/labor toolkit. However, the significant fiscal impact of Act 111 on municipal budgets, as well as the fact that it has not been updated in 50 years, warrants changes to make Act 111 a more balanced and fair process. In order to encourage sound, fiscal stability, Act 111 needs to reflect today’s realities.
The reforms outlined below keep collective bargaining intact and will lead to stronger, more fiscally secure municipalities which, in turn, protects present and future public safety jobs and benefits.
The League’s an advocate for:
- requiring the cost of the third (neutral) arbitrator to be shared equally by both sides, rather than being paid by the employer;
- requiring the arbitrator to justify the arbitration award based on the facts and evidence presented;
- requiring the evidentiary hearings to be open to the public;
- prohibiting future pension and post-retirement healthcare benefits from being subjects of collective bargaining;
- expanding the list of arbitrators to choose from and providing an equal chance at being the first side to start the selection process;
- relaxing the threshold for appeal, making the arbitrator accountable;
- prohibiting retroactive awards; and
- starting the collective bargaining process earlier and requiring a request for arbitration earlier.
These changes keep Act 111 intact for public safety personnel while making fiscally sound updates to the law. As the cost of public safety continues to take more and more of the municipal budget, these modest changes will have a positive impact for the employer/taxpayer, as well as the public safety personnel whose jobs Act 111 was put in place to protect.