Calling the Shots

By May 13, 2008Labor Unions

The Senate today voted 69-29 to invoke cloture on H.R. 980, Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act of 2007, to impose collective bargaining on state and local firefighters and law-enforcement officers.

Wait… Can the federal government do that?

No, actually it can’t. As the Wall Street Journal pointed out yesterday in “The Union Police,” it’s a violation of the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which reserves to the states those rights not specifically granted to the federal government.

This federalist principle has real-world implications, too. Do we want the federal government imposing the same workrules for firefighters in Anchorage as in Tuscaloosa as in Montpelier?

What’s at play here is the multi-front effort by organized labor to maximize its political influence by controlling more and more parts of government, a base from which it can extent influence over private-sector employers. Sen. Enzi (R-WY) noted on the Senate floor today that the bill came directly from the House to the Senate floor with no hearings in the Senate Health, Education and Labor Committee. Labor must fear the scrutiny.

The White House today issued its Statement of Administration Policy on the bill. Bottom line:

The Administration believes that State and local governments should determine the nature and range of collective bargaining rights exercised by the public safety workers they employ. The Administration strongly opposes this Act because its severe intrusions on State sovereignty and emergency management conflict with the fundamental principles of federalism. If H.R. 980 were presented to the President, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.

P.S. The National League of Cities opposes the bill, CQ reports.

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