Labor Offer Keeps New Jersey Tolls From Going Private
By Melissa Maynard, Staff Writer
TAKING A TOLL: New Jersey's 800 toll booth operators will be out of a job by 2013 as the state makes a scheduled transition to electronic toll collection. But Governor Chris Christie's interim plan to turn over toll collection to a private company was averted when the two unions that represent toll workers offered concessions, Bloomberg reports. The New Jersey Turnpike Authority approved contract concessions on Friday that will allow those workers to keep their jobs while saving the state $35 million over two years. The deal needs to be approved by union members and would mean a 24 percent salary cut over two years-from a top salary of $65,000 to a top salary of $49,500.
TOO PRIVATE? Arizona Governor Jan Brewer surprised many observers last week by vetoing a bill that would have forced Arizona's two largest cities to allow private companies and other cities to bid on any municipal services that cost more than $500,000. A vocal proponent of privatizing government services, Brewer created the Commission on Privatization and Efficiency to explore opportunities for outsourcing and successfully led the partial privatization of the state's economic development functions through the creation of the Arizona Commerce Authority. Still, she had few kind words for the legislature's outsourcing bill, calling it "riddled with shortcomings" in her veto letter, reports the Arizona Capitol Times . Brewer said the bill was overly intrusive, jeopardized the tax-exempt status of public buildings and opened critical public safety functions to privatization. "City councils currently have the ability to outsource and they do that when they determine it is in the best interest of the taxpayer," she wrote.
BARGAINING OVER HEALTH: The Democratic-controlled Massachusetts House voted last week to strip municipal employees of their right to bargain over health care, the Boston Globe reports , a move that proponents argue would save struggling cities and towns $100 million next year. Unions fought the bill with a radio ad warning legislators that a vote for the bill might cost them the election. "It's pretty stunning," Robert J. Haynes, president of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, told the Globe. "These are the same Democrats that all these labor unions elected. The same Democrats who we contributed to in their campaigns. The same Democrats who tell us over and over again that they're with us, that they believe in collective bargaining, that they believe in unions … It's a done deal for our relationship with the people inside that chamber."
PRISON-FRONT PROPERTY: Legislation poised for passage in the final two weeks of Missouri's legislative session would allow the state to auction off more than 1,000 acres of state property, reportsthe Associated Press . Much of the property is agricultural land near prisons, but it also includes a correctional facility and a prison warden's house. The administration estimates the sale could raise $3.6 million to help balance the state's budget.