East Providence (RI) Taxpayers request that General Assembly reject labor union push for binding arbitration

Or proof again that elections matter.

[Ed. This is a case that taxpayers across the country should be watching. In June the House Labor Committee of the Rhode Island General Assembly approved a bill that unilaterally mandates that existing teachers’ contracts remain in effect until a new collective bargaining agreement is reached, despite the budgetary limitations of the cities and towns. In effect, they will have created unlimited contracts for local unions. This article is from today’s newsletter from RI Statewide Coalition.]

The East Providence Taxpayers Association has formally requested that all members of the city’s delegation to the Rhode Island General Assembly deject and render inoperative any request made by local labor unions that in any way dictate binding arbitration or unlimited contract extensions. In a letter dated August 20, 2009, the EPTA relayed its concerns to the delegation. Board member Steve Gerling announced that; “the needs of the citizenry must surpass the interests of community servants. Unified labor must come to the realization that the interests and troubles of our state pertain to their members just as they do those of the all residents”. Mr. Gerling went on to say that “The EPTA unremittingly opposes any such action not because of any personal juxtaposition of ego, but rather the fact that the policy is simply not good for the fiscal health of a city already struggling with huge debt and deficit”.

The EPTA, having monitored the contract dispute in East Providence since its inception, insists that binding arbitration dispels accountability of elected officials, placing matters of foremost importance in the hands of arbitrators whose best interests reside in satisfying the demands of the more unified and sizeable position of organized labor. Furthermore, the additional burden of unlimited contracts deems the labor union as unaccountable, and leaves little to no incentive for union representatives to bargain in good faith. Mr. Gerling concluded his remarks by warning that “such action is clearly the forerunner to an increased tax burden on city residents that will undoubtedly force them to consider relocating to a more tax-friendly environment, decreasing the tax base and leading to a cyclical methodology of increasing the workload on those who remain”.

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