A Senate committee today endorsed SB 341 by Sen. Bob Ballinger to prohibit collective bargaining by public employees.
He amended the bill as originally filed to exempt the politically powerful (and often conservative) police and firefighters unions. Firefighters, to their credit, nonetheless opposed the legislation, as did a number of employee groups.
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees has represented some public employees in Arkansas, including in the city of Little Rock, but Ballinger claims local governments are exempted. That’s unclear, particularly, on transit employees. There’s no longer a teachers’ collective bargaining agreement in the state, but this bill would prohibit it in the future, which the Arkansas Education Association noted. The bill also would provide for termination of any public employee who participates in a strike.