Legislator wants to repeal Act 312

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by Cynthia Price
Legal News

The Republican representative from Holland has introduced a bill in the Michigan House to repeal Act 312, the law which allows for and governs arbitration in contract disputes between governmental units and public safety employees.

Rep. Joe Haveman’s HB 4205, which is co-sponsored by Rep. Amanda Price, also of Holland, would retract the ability of police and firefighters, and municipalities, to bring their contract disputes to binding arbitration.

Michigan public safety employees are prevented by law  from going out on strike or engaging in any kind of work stoppage.

According to a letter to the editor of the Holland Sentinel, Haveman feels that “...since arbitration under PA 312 has become common practice, the cost of the process has increased astronomically, the need for it has decreased and the price of peace of mind has become burdensome for taxpayers” because “the increase in pay or benefits that a municipality does have to provide following an arbitrator’s decision must come from somewhere, and generally speaking that ‘somewhere’ is the taxpayers.”

Thomas Barnes (see article above) says that in the past most requests for PA 312 arbitration came from police and firefighter unions, but recently he has seen more and more coming from municipalities.

The bill’s introduction has sparked protest rallies around the state, including one in Grand Rapids on Feb. 20 that drew over 300 people.

Grand Rapids representatives Brandon Dillon and Roy Schmidt sponsored the demonstration.

HB 4205 is scheduled for a hearing in the Government Operations committee on Feb.23 at noon.