Auros (auros) wrote,

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Local Ballot Measures

A: "Prevailing Wage" comparisons for county employees. NO.

The complaint that this measure claims to address is that in determining the salaries of county employees, we currently compare to the salaries of private-sector employees without accounting for the better benefits given to public-sector employees. It proposes to instead only compare to public-sector employees. Am I the only one who sees this as a non-sequitur? Instead of saying, "We think that nurses at public hospitals should have the same pay, with benefits accounted for, as at private sector hospitals," it's creating the tautology of, "We think that nurses at public hospitals should have the same pay as at public sector hospitals." By refusing to even look at the private sector, the county would then (at least potentially) have the right to cut pay for public employees. I'd be happy to vote for a measure that allowed inclusion of an estimate of the value of benefits in comparisons, but this is just dumb.

C: Binding Arbitration. YES.
B: Referenda on results of Binding Arbitration. NO, but I'm not absolutely sure on this one.

Currently the county has no legal structure in place to resolve labor disputes. Measure C implements a (fairly common) binding arbitration system, whereby employees who feel they should not strike, for public safety reasons (e.g. police, nurses), can get their grievances addressed. I know people who have worked as arbitrators, and I've seen studies suggesting that this system works pretty well for a wide variety of problems, from landlord/tenant stuff to labor disputes in multinational corporations. Measure B would give the county supervisors the power to subject the arbitrators' decisions to a referendum. This of course would slow implementation of arbitration decisions even if they were approved; and if they weren't approved, it would lead either to another round of arbitration (more expenses) and further festering of whatever the dispute was in the first place, potentially eventually leading to a strike. (There have been nurses' strikes in various places around the country. They're ugly.) I understand the impulse to have a final democratic check on the system, but the whole point of the arbitration system is that the employer and employees agree on an arbitrator, and agree in advance to accept the arbitrator's decisions; it seems unfair to give the employer -- even if the employer is, basically, us, the voters -- a backdoor through which to weasel out of decisions we supposedly agreed to in advance. Additionally, considering that the fairly-obviously-stupid A is on the ballot, being recommended by the same group of supervisors, in very similar terms ("it's all a plot by lawyers to pad their pockets!"), I really don't trust the arguments in favor of B very much.

ETA: plymouth pointed out to me that if both sides in an arbitration situation had the right to push the result onto the ballot, B would be fair; I agree, I might vote for something like that, though I'd still be concerned about having it defeat the original purpose of the arbitration system (which is to settle labor disputes quickly, without the expense of strikes, lockouts, or, in the case of Measure B, extra county-wide elections). As it stands, it unfairly advantages the managers against the employees.

I: Parcel tax for schools. YES.

The only people opposed are the local Libertarians and the local instance of the "no taxes ever" club. It's a continuation of a current tax, with a very small increase. We're a wealthy community; the state is in a budget crisis and is not about to provide a windfall for schools; we can afford to fund them ourselves.

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