Labor Freedom — Missing for ‘Public Servants,’ Too

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The Commonwealth Foundation, the Rio Grande Foundation’s sister think tank in Pennsylvania, has released a useful — if depressing — examination of laws and regulations covering states’ government unions.

“Transforming Labor: A Comprehensive, Nationwide Comparison and Grading of Public Sector Labor Laws” explores “11 key measures that directly affect taxpayers and public employees.”

It won’t surprise many, but New Mexico ranks among the 20 states with “collective bargaining that is either legal or required,” as well as “card check”┬ácertification, and “some form of binding arbitration during contract negotiation impasses.” New Mexico also permits “release time,” which the American Legislative Exchange Council defines as “the practice of paying a public employee a public salary for time spent in union recruiting and representation activities.”

As the map above indicates, New Mexico’s overall grade of “D” was the worst in our region. Texas received an “A+” and Arizona scored a “B.” Three of our neighbors were “C” states: Utah, Oklahoma, and Colorado.

With state finances a mess and government employment claiming so large a section of the budget — either directly, or through subsidies to counties, municipalities, and school districts — the report arrives at an important time. Serious reforms of “labor” law pertaining to government “service” in New Mexico are a must. Waiting only makes the problem grow larger.