Senate approves reform legislation to improve local fire and police arbitration process
LANSING — The Michigan Senate today approved reform legislation designed to save taxpayer dollars by improving the arbitration process for local police and fire department employees, said Sen. Randy Richardville, sponsor of the measure.
“The current arbitration process has not been updated for 40 years,” said Richardville, R-Monroe. “The reforms in this legislation emphasize mediation, which promotes good faith negotiation and finding solutions rather than divisive negotiations that drag on for years. These are the types of reforms that the state must adopt as we look for ways to make programs more efficient and effective during this fiscal crisis.”
Senate Bill 1072, sponsored by Richardville, would amend Public Act 312 to expedite the arbitration process for police and fire department employees by strengthening the training and quality of arbitrators and reducing timelines. The measure also maintains arbitrator consideration of a community’s ability to pay an award which has been in the statute since 1969.
Richardville said the restrictions on time limits will help reduce costs and uncertainty.
“Reducing arbitration time frames will speed up a process that currently can last up to two years,” Richardville said. “A finite end will give more certainty for both municipalities and public safety officers. Enhancing the qualifications and training of arbitrators will increase the trust of all parties in the system and lead to fairer decisions both parties can accept.”
Richardville worked closely with the Michigan Fraternal Order of Police and the Michigan Professional Fire Fighters Union to craft this legislation.
The Senate also approved other major reforms that would remove roadblocks to local consolidation. Under Senate Bills 1085 and 1086, increasing certain pay and benefit levels for employees would not be required when employees or functions transfer from one local entity to another under an inter-local agreement.
The measures, which could save the state $70 million to $118 million, have been sent to the state House for further consideration.
Editor’s note: Audio remarks are available for broadcast from the Senate Majority Audiowire on the Web at: www.senate.michigan.gov/podcasts.asp?District=17
Posted: Wednesday, February 10, 2010
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