Arbitration is an inherently unpredictable process.
So the taxpayers dodged a bullet last week when the Clark County School District prevailed in a dispute with the teacher union over retirement pay.
Ironically, the decision will save the jobs of some 134 teachers, who would have been unemployed had the very association to whom many of them pay dues carried the day.
But preserving compensation and benefit levels far outstrip job security on the union’s priority list. That’s why the Clark County Education Association decided to contest an effort to force teachers and other public employees to pay a bit more of their own retirement contributions.
The union demanded that the school district — read: the taxpayers — foot the increase.
That would have cost the district — struggling with a strained budget in these economic times — an additional $10 million and led to layoffs. But district officials wouldn’t budge on the issue, and the matter went to arbitration.
On Wednesday, the arbitrator ruled in the district’s favor. Common sense prevailed. Asking teachers and other government workers to foot more of the bill for their own retirements is hardly Draconian at a time when the private-sector workers who cover their salaries are lucky to have jobs, let alone a stable financial source for their golden years.
Attention now shifts to another pending arbitration case, this one involving the district’s effort to squeeze an additional $58 million in concessions from the union via a pay freeze. All other district employees, recognizing financial realities, have agreed to the freeze. But the teachers pushed the matter to arbitration, preferring hundreds of teacher layoffs to a few years of flat paychecks.
Let’s hope common sense prevails in that case, too.