Heineman takes hard line against public employees

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Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman threatened to veto a bill that would change how public sector employees collectively bargain because the bill does not go far enough in restricting the the collective bargaining rights of public employees.

In Nebraska public sector unions do not have the the right to strike, but they have the ability to appeal collective bargaining disputes to the Commission of Industrial Relations.

Heineman announced yesterday that he supports a version of Commission of Industrial Relations reform backed by the Omaha, Lincoln and Nebraska chambers of commerce.  The business communities approach would preclude the CIR from intervening in wage disputes only if the proposed wages fell below 85 percent of the prevailing wage rate in the area. The prevailing wage rate takes into account private sector employees.  Public employer could also unilaterally change non-contract benefits under the proposal Henieman supports.

The proposal Henieman supports is response by business interests to LB 397. The legislature gave first round approval to LB 397 by a  a bill that would change how the Commission of Industrial Relations decides labor disputes between local governments and public sector unions. In Nebraska public sector unions do not have the the right to strike, but they have the ability to appeal collective bargaining disputes to the Commission of Industrial Relations. LB 397 would allow the CIR to compare wages to local private employers in disptues. Currently wages are compared to public sector wages in similar sized cities. Critics of the current CIR argue that Omaha and Lincoln are often compared to much larger metropolitan areas with higher costs of living. Another reform of LB 397 is to allow the CIR to take fringe benefits into account when determining wage level. Some public sector unions havecriticized aspects of LB 397 as weakening their collective bargaining rights.

Heineman has hinted that he would support a ballot initiative in 2012 if the legislature failed to pass CIR reform that satisfies business interests.

The offices of Rehm, Bennett, Moore & Rehm, which also sponsors the Trucker Lawyers website, are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Five attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 95 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska, Iowa and other states with Nebraska and Iowa jurisdiction. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

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