This November Missouri voters will decide how state firefighters negotiate with city officials on labor issues. Elizabeth Gill has the story in Jefferson City.
Missouri state firefighters want the right to negotiate as a group on issues like wages and safety.
Firefighters also want a constitutional amendment to allow an independent third party to arbitrate labor discussion with city officials.
John Corbett is the Missouri state firefighters council president. The firefighters council funded the initiative petition.
Corbett says he expects voter support in November:
The initiative does not include the right to strike. Corbett says the proposed amendment does not call for tax increases.
In 1990 Missouri state legislature said firefighters have the right to collective bargaining and binding arbitration. Then governor John Ashcroft vetoed the initiative. Ashcroft said collective bargaining was unconstitutional for public employees.
Gary Markenson of the Missouri Municipal League opposes the proposed ammendement. Markenson's group represents 624 Missouri cities. Markenson says the firefighter's initiative could hurt Missouri taxpayers:
Markenson says an increase in firefighter's wages could mean an increase in taxes or a reduction in services from other departments whose funding might be affected. Markenson also said that firefighters could strike regardless of what it written in the amendment proposal.
Markenson says collective bargaining sets a bad precedent. He says collective bargaining opens the door for other public employees like teachers and police officers to demand similar rights. Markenson added that with public employees, the city cannot decide that an arbitration award is too high and eliminate the department.
Missouri voters will make the final decision at the polls in November. From the State Capitol, I'm Elizabeth Gill.
Date:September 26, 2002
By: Elizabeth Gill
State Capital Bureau
This November Missouri voters will decide how state firefighters negotiate with city officials on labor issues. Elizabeth gill has the story in Jefferson City.
The state firefighter's council wants collective bargaining and binding arbitration rights. Council president John Corbett says the proposed consitutional amendment would give firefighters the same rights private sector employees already enjoy:
Gary Markenson of the Missouri Municipal league is opposed to the firefighter's initiative. Markenson's group represents 624 Missouri cities. Markenson says the amendment could mean higher taxes for Missouri residents if outside arbitrators increase salaries.
From the state capitol, I'm Elizabeth Gill.