A bill putting union arbitration awards back within the purview of Pennsylvania's Act 47 “distressed cities” law is headed toward Gov. Tom Corbett's desk.
Senate Bill 1321 passed the state House 191-0 on Friday after passing the Senate 47-1 on June 5. Once some administrative details are wrapped up — likely today — the bill goes to the governor, Senate Republican spokesman Erik Arneson said.
The bill comes in response to an October state Supreme Court decision setting union arbitration awards off-limits when cities formulate financial recovery plans under Act 47. It sets up a mechanism for evaluating arbitration awards under Act 47, and it clarifies language the Supreme Court objected to in its ruling.
The Coalition for Sustainable Communities, a broad coalition of business and government leaders, supported the fix, saying the Supreme Court’s ruling severely hampered Act 47’s effectiveness.
“It’s a beginning,” said Lancaster Mayor Rick Gray.
The protection the Supreme Court afforded to arbitration awards gave unions an overwhelming incentive to seek arbitration rather than reach negotiated settlements, he said. The bill should make negotiation a viable option again, he said.
Should a union contract be reopened under Act 47, the bill gives the union “a seat at the table,” Gray said.
The Lancaster Chamber of Commerce & Industry released a statement praising the House and Senate for passing the bill.