City leaders pushing for change in Pa. binding arbitration law

    Municipal leaders are calling for changes to Pennsylvania’s law on collective bargaining arbitration.

    The 1968 statute governs how contract awards for police and firefighters must be decided if there is an impasse on negotiations because police and firefighters are not permitted to strike.

    City officials say awards decided through arbitration are sending their budgets into the red.

    Suggested modifications are minor, but important, said Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlawski. They include requiring the arbitrator to consider what kind of award a city would be able to pay.

    “You should look at the financial capacity of a municipality to pay for benefits. They should be taken into consideration as you’re going through the binding arbitration process,” Pawlawski said. “That is not the case now.”

    A Senate Republican says he plans to introduce a bill to assist the municipalities.

    Sen. John Eichelberger of Blair County is sponsoring a measure to open arbitration hearings to the public and require the costs of arbitration to be split evenly between unions and the city.

    Right now, the city pays about two-thirds of the cost.

    Unions are against the proposed changes.

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