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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: December 2, 2014 04:06 PM
From: Senator John H. Eichelberger, Jr.
To: All Senate members
Subject: Collective Bargaining Arbitration--Fairness and Taxpayer Protection
Forty-one percent of the Pennsylvania’s 12.6 million residents- more than 5.2 million people- live in a city, township or borough that is facing some form of financial distress. Last session, joint hearings provided a clear picture on the factors contributing to financial distress in the Commonwealth’s communities. The recurring themes at the hearings involved addressing legacy costs, strengthening Act 47, improving the tax base, and reforming collective bargaining. The hearings also corroborated the report of the SR323 Task Force on Mandate Relief issued in October 2012, which found that the collective bargaining process was one of the two most burdensome mandates on local governments, both in perception and median cost.

As a result, I will be re-introducing legislation to reform Act 111, the Policemen and Firemen Collective Bargaining Act, to provide fairness, transparency, and taxpayer protections. Originally, passed in 1968, the provisions of this law have remained unchanged for almost half a century. In the interim, arbitrations have resulted in the creation of new benefits and legacy cost mandates that did not exist in statute, and in many cases compensation awards based on wages in other areas rather than on municipality-specific circumstances.

My legislation (Senate Bill 1111 from last session) would inject fairness into the process by requiring the costs of arbitration to be split evenly by the parties, and by balancing the influence of the arbitration board. The bill would open arbitration proceedings to the public, and also require decisions of arbitrators to be based on relevant factors which are explained in writings available for public inspection.

If you are interested in co-sponsoring this legislation or need further information, please feel free to contact my Harrisburg Office at (717) 787-5490.

Introduced as SB211