Guest Column: End Collective Bargaining for Public Employees

The Public Employment Relations Act (PERA) a major cause of underfunded pension systems and an obstacle to solutions

Steve_HarryFull article at Steve Harry’s site, you may have to go to the directory to locate page. (Title of article: “End collective bargaining for public employees”.)

The Public Employment Relations Act (PERA) is the state law that requires local governments and public schools in Michigan to engage in collective bargaining. It never was a good idea, but recently it has been seen – by me, at least – as a major cause of underfunded pension systems and an obstacle to solutions.

I’ve posted several stories here about underfunded pension and retiree heath care systems. The most recent said Lansing’s debt amounts to $16,000 per household and that pension systems in 80 of Michigan’s 100 largest cities are underfunded.

The National Labor Relations Act was passed and signed into law by President Roosevelt in 1935. It does not apply to government employers:

The term “employer” . . .  shall not include the United States or any wholly owned Government corporation, or any Federal Reserve Bank, or any State or political subdivision thereof . . .

Collective bargaining for public sector employees did not come to Michigan until 1965:

In the 1964 election, President Lyndon Johnson won in a landslide, and his coattails helped many other Democratic candidates. Michigan Democrats won large majorities in both houses of the state legislature in the 1964 election, their first majorities in either chamber since 1937-1938, and enactment of a prounion public sector bargaining law was one consequence of those majorities. On July 23, 1965, Governor George Romney, a liberal Republican, signed the Public Employment Relations Act (PERA), 1965 PA 379. . . PERA granted bargaining rights to public sector employees [and] defined and prohibited unfair labor practices (ULPs) . . . (source, pages 107-108)

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