When it comes to union negotiations, government unions have it made. Most contracts with public unions contain what's known as a 'me-too' clause. Meaning that anytime a union within the government's jurisdiction gets a benefit, the other unions get it too.
In some instances, this is politically expedient...if you're able to negotiate a 2% pay increase with one union, you've got better standing for sticking with a 2% pay increase for other unions.
But in other instances, such provisions are extremely costly and negate the value of the concept of 'negotiation.'
For example: If a union decides that it wants a revision to its vacation schedule, they may be willing to give up something in exchange...it's all a matter of what particular item is most important to its members. In the 'negotiation' process, the union requests the vacation revision and the administration says, we'll trade that for a consolidation of job descriptions. After discussion, an agreement is reached...not as much vacation as was originally requested and not as many reductions in job descriptions. Both sign off on the agreement.
However, other unions see only the additional benefit - never the compromise which allowed for the extra benefits. The 'me-too' thinking comes into play when other unions start saying that they now get to have the additional vacation time. And rarely does the administration say...okay - but you also have to give up what the first union gave up. No - they just give in and everyone gets the additional benefit. And the cost is even greater than just for the unions because employees not in or not eligible for union membership often get the additional benefits as well. After all, you can't let your administrative and exempt staff have less of a benefit than those they're responsible for...
What we need in government is more leaders who are willing to take a stand on this issue and require unions and their staffs to look at the whole picture and not just the 'gains' that come from negotiations. We need more unions (there are some) who realize that all negotiated 'takes' are accompanied by negotiated 'gives' and elected officials who are willing to insist upon true negotiation any time that a union wants the same benefits another union has achieved.
COMING UP: Last week, after reading an article on Glass City Jungle, I started working on a post about PERS pickups...I'm still waiting for the information from the City, but it looks like the issue will be discussed at the next Toledo City Council meeting according to this Toledo Blade article about the Council's agenda review meeting. I was promised the information by noon Thursday, so look for the post (or an update) after then.