Unrest among public employees in Wisconsin has parallels in Nebraska. Teachers and other public workers have been demonstrating at the capitol in Madison, concerned about losing their collective bargaining rights.
Nebraska state Senator Tyson Larson, of O’Neill, introduced a bill that would not allow teachers to use the Commission of Industrial Relations to settle wage and employment disputes. Larson says there are lessons to be learned from Wisconsin’s mess.
“We have to be very careful within the state of Nebraska because if the Business and Labor Committee, which all the C.I.R. bills were heard in, if they block substantial reform from coming to the full legislature for debate, then we’re going face maybe a ballot initiative next year that could completely end collective bargaining in this state.”
Larson says the C.I.R. process needs to be reformed if Nebraska wants to avoid seeing in Lincoln what’s happening now in Madison. Larson says collective bargaining for teachers and other public employees needs another look.
“Every organization and every individual has a right to bargain for themselves,” Larson says. “We have to, at the same time, preserve the delicate balance between labor and management.”
Larson’s bill was heard in committee and is waiting for a vote to see if it will get to the floor.
Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton