Anti-union mood moves to Nebraska's modest unions

Associated Press
FILE - In this April 2, 2010, file photo Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman walks to a meeting in the Governor's Hearing Room, in Lincoln, Neb. In the national struggle between governors and unions over worker costs, Heineman and the Republican-controlled Legislature are now taking a bead on one aspect of state law that has produced occasional victories for unionized workers. Lawmakers have given priority status to weakening or removing most of the powers of an arbitration panel that mediates disputes between public employees and government agencies. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File)
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FILE - In this April 2, 2010, file photo Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman walks to a meeting in the Governor's …

Nebraska state lawmakers are targeting a commission that has produced occasional labor victories for public employee unions, one of the few avenues available when negotiations stall.

Conservative lawmakers say the Commission of Industrial Relations is responsible for unpredictable changes in government personnel spending. Commission supporters say their criticism is politically motivated, meant to take advantage of the sour national mood about government spending.

Lawmakers unveiled a package this week in response to frustration with the commission, which resolves public sector labor disputes. Six versions of legislation had been introduced that, in different forms, would have stripped the commission's authority to set wages and work conditions, remove its jurisdiction over health and retirement benefits and exclude it from cases involving public school teachers.

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