Just today, I learned of yet another blow to fair bargaining. A new law has taken effect here in Michigan that prohibits public sector employees from collecting retroactive pay increases if contract negotiations extend beyond the end date of the current contract.
PUBLIC EMPLOYMENT RELATIONS (EXCERPT)
Act 336 of 1947 [updated 2011 - see below]
423.215b Expiration date of collective bargaining agreement; wages and benefits; levels and amounts; retroactive levels and amounts prohibited; definitions.
(1) Except as otherwise provided in this section, after the expiration date of a collective bargaining agreement and until a successor collective bargaining agreement is in place, a public employer shall pay and provide wages and benefits at levels and amounts that are no greater than those in effect on the expiration date of the collective bargaining agreement. The prohibition in this subsection includes increases that would result from wage step increases. Employees who receive health, dental, vision, prescription, or other insurance benefits under a collective bargaining agreement shall bear any increased cost of maintaining those benefits that occurs after the expiration date. The public employer is authorized to make payroll deductions necessary to pay the increased costs of maintaining those benefits.
(2) Except as provided in subsection (3), the parties to a collective bargaining agreement shall not agree to, and an arbitration panel shall not order, any retroactive wage or benefit levels or amounts that are greater than those in effect on the expiration date of the collective bargaining agreement.
(3) For a collective bargaining agreement that expired before the effective date of this section, the requirements of this section apply to limit wages and benefits to the levels and amounts in effect on the effective date of this section.
(4) As used in this section:
(a) “Expiration date” means the expiration date set forth in a collective bargaining agreement without regard to any agreement of the parties to extend or honor the collective bargaining agreement during pending negotiations for a successor collective bargaining agreement.
(b) “Increased cost” in regard to insurance benefits means the difference in premiums or illustrated rates between the prior year and the current coverage year. The difference shall be calculated based on changes in cost by category of coverage and not on changes in individual employee marital or dependent status.
History: Add. 2011, Act 54, Imd. Eff. June 8, 2011
In order words, if contract negotiations continue until June for some reason, even though the new contract is supposed to be effective January 1st, the pay raise would not be retroactive to the beginning of the contract. What the hell is the incentive for a public sector employer to ever come to an agreement with its employees? Why not delay, delay, delay indefinitely to avoid paying higher wages?
It is also nasty that this law only applies to wages that are greater than the previous contract, not lower. So, under this legislation it is actually legal to make pay decreases retroactive, but not pay increases. That difference in itself sounds illegal, immoral, and unethical.
Once again, the renegade right has stuck it to public sector employees. These sneaky and underhanded efforts are taking place all across the country. One way to express your dismay is to protest peacefully (until they outlaw that too).
The Occupy movement intends to do just that during the Governor’s 2012 State of the State Address scheduled for January 18th. If you are tired of broken promises and nasty legislation, consider joining this protest scheduled from 6:30 pm to 10:30 pm at the State Capitol building in Lansing.
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