The Daily Gazette
The Locally Owned Voice of the Capital Region

The trouble with binding arbitration

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For a good example of what’s wrong with binding arbitration in New York state, look no further than last week’s ruling by the state Public Employment Relations Board in a police contract dispute in Scotia. These awards almost always go in favor of the union, and, predictably, this one did as well, despite some compelling arguments by the village. The award covers five years, all the way back to 2009, when the last negotiated contract ...

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November 28, 2013
12:36 p.m.

[ Flag Post ]

The trouble with The Daily Gazette Editorials -
For a good example of what’s wrong with this article, compare the actual language of the PERB decision ( to the slanted view of what is written here.

Example - Half Truths:
Editor: "The arbitrators are required to look at compensation patterns among “comparable” jurisdictions. One would think that would mean similar-sized municipalities with similar crime numbers, etc. But in most cases, they simply look at what other police and firefighters in the area get (so one lucrative contract leads to another). That’s what they did with Scotia, comparing its cops to those in the city of Schenectady and others in Schenectady County.

PERB: (paraphrased) Glenville is a direct comparison and although Niskayuna and Rotterdam are not directly comparble, they should be given limited weight due to crime statistics per officer. City of Schenectady absolutely not a comparable. The village of Hudson Falls shares common characteristics with the village of Scotia and should be given some consideration as a comparable.

The ability to pay is also outlined in the award and is based on economist review of the town's finances. Feel free read the PERB decision yourself and realize that these articles tell a slanted view of the truth.

I'm not here to argue about the award given the the PBA in the arbitration, just to point out that the Gazette is unable or unwilling to report the news in an accurate and objective manner, even when the award in which they reference is readily available online for fact checking.

November 29, 2013
1:12 p.m.

[ Flag Post ]

System needs fixing. Present binding arbitration system does not work well; however, you still need a mechanism that will fairly resolve labor issues for employees who do not have the ability to strike.

Removing the binding arbitration system entirely creates a whole host of other problems. Negotiate like other unions = take it or leave it. You need to build a system of permanent arbitrators, real experts in these matters (economists, investment managers, health insurance experts, etc.) Had a more thoughtful system been put in place from the beginning, cities and employees might be better off.

One other point - it is unfair to blame the economic woes of cities on the unions entirely. Some of the issues are well beyond the control of local government.