Labor disputes have dominated headlines across the country in recent months as some lawmakers look to reduce the power of some unions. The dispute hasn’t reached a boiling point in Nebraska yet, but the topic is being addressed.
Senators Steve Lathrop and Brad Ashford have introduced a proposal that would overhaul the Commission of Industrial Relations, which has been blamed by some for inconsistent and unpredictable changes in government spending.
Governor Dave Heineman says the C-I-R needs comprehensive reform and the decisions regarding public employees need to be made more at the local level, and he says the proposal in the Unicameral isn’t adequate.
CIR reform has some concerned that this is the beginning of an attempt by some lawmakers to break up the unions. Governor Heineman says it’s more about finding a balance than anything else.
Some educators feel like they’re being targeted by lawmakers and citizens and Heineman says if the issue is not resolved in this legislative session, it will likely go before the voters.
Meanwhile, the Nebraska State Education Association passed a resolution Saturday to explore five petition drives that would safeguard education funding and protect the rights of public employees.
The proposal, LB397, would require the CIR to give preference to other cities and/or school districts in Nebraska when considering an appropriate wage instead of making out-of-state comparisons. The measure, according to the Lincoln Journal Star, would also impose a freeze for cities or school districts with wages above the state average.
The bill was last heard in the Business and Labor Committee on April 13, where it remains for now.
Josh Mackey, KOGA, Ogallala