Bargaining, once again, has been going painfully slow. A lot of that is because the employer wants to remove language they deem unnecessary from the contract.
The problem is that the contract has been built over decades of negotiations. Every piece of language in the contract was bought and paid for by the membership. Nothing was given out of the goodness of the employer’s heart. From health insurance to sick leave, vacation to overtime compensation, all of that language came through the efforts of employees from years past.
Article III is Management Rights. Basically, everything is a management right, unless language in the contract limits what management may do.
Although some language may not have been used recently, it still may be relevant to employees. To give an analogy, imagine you purchased a generator for your house. It was expensive, but you paid for it. Your plan was to protect your family in the event of a power outage. Now several years have passed, and your house has never lost power. You haven’t needed the generator, but it provided piece of mind.
Your neighbor now comes along, and says they are going to take your generator away from you. After all, you haven’t been using it. By the way, they aren’t going to give you anything for it. They just plan on taking it. You would object, because it is your property. If they really want or need it, they should make a reasonable offer, and you can consider if it is worth parting with.
Bargaining is based on a Quid Pro Quo concept. In plain English, if you want something, it’s going to cost you. Once it is in the contract, it remains unless it is negotiated out. Arbitrators also expect that if language goes missing, something was received in exchange for that language.
Whether it is transfer language, layoff protection, local negotiations like the Section 7 agreements, or other language, items offset each other. Expecting us to agree to significant protective language reductions so that we can get the same 2% and 2% that other state employees already received isn’t negotiations. It is more like terms of surrender. We still have collective bargaining rights, and we expect the employer to recognize those and negotiate in good faith.