| March 17, 2011

Time to reform municipal collective bargaining

"Conservatives should use their newly acquired power," law professor Andrew Spiropoulos writes today in The Journal Record, "to enact reforms that will both positively advance the cause of good government and diminish the power of selfish interest groups who have demonstrated their indifference to the needs of the community." Spiropoulos, who serves as the Milton Friedman Distinguished Fellow at OCPA, continues:

The Legislature is considering a bill that will repeal a law requiring cities engaging in collective bargaining with their employees to submit labor disputes to binding arbitration. This arbitration process was designed and has operated to favor the interests of labor unions over the city as a whole, adding to union coffers and political power.

And what reward, at least here in Oklahoma City, have we reaped from our generosity? Our public safety unions, angry over the city’s refusal to accede to their various demands, in the MAPS 3 and two subsequent elections used their considerable resources in a thankfully failed attempt to both undermine the city’s plans and remove its elected leaders. Are we supposed to ignore that the union campaigns, if successful, would have destroyed the unity and political momentum that has made our city’s extraordinary progress possible?

I agree that the Legislature should reform municipal collective bargaining, first and foremost, because it will advance the good of the majority of its citizens. But we shouldn’t resist passing the bill because it hurts the interests of a particular group. Justice not only permits society to restrict the power of the self-interested—it requires it.

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