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SB 35: "An Act authorizing employers and employees to mediate disputed workers' compensation claims and to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement that offers mediation and mandates arbitration of disputed workers' compensation claims by a hearing officer or other classified employee of the division of workers' compensation and allowing collective bargaining agreements to supersede certain provisions of the Alaska Workers' Compensation Act; and providing for an effective date."

00                             SENATE BILL NO. 35                                                                          
01 "An Act authorizing employers and employees to mediate disputed workers'                                                
02 compensation claims and to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement that offers                                      
03 mediation and mandates arbitration of disputed workers' compensation claims by a                                        
04 hearing officer or other classified employee of the division of workers' compensation and                               
05 allowing collective bargaining agreements to supersede certain provisions of the Alaska                                 
06 Workers' Compensation Act; and providing for an effective date."                                                        
07 BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF ALASKA:                                                                
08    * Section 1. AS 23.30.110 is amended by adding a new subsection to read:                                           
09            (i)  If the employee and the employer disagree with respect to the issues                                    
10       relating to a claim under this chapter, the employee and the employer and their                                   
11       respective representatives and agents may attend mediation, subject to the following:                             
12                 (1)  mediation under this section                                                                       
13                      (A)  is intended to facilitate settlement of a disputed claim, but                                 
01            the mediator does not have the power to compel a settlement;                                                 
02                      (B)  shall be conducted by a hearing officer or other classified                                   
03            employee of the division of workers' compensation;                                                           
04                      (C)  shall be conducted informally as one or more in-person or                                     
05            telephonic conferences, as determined by the mediator;                                                       
06                      (D)  shall be confidential; and                                                                    
07                      (E)  may not be recorded;                                                                          
08                 (2)  notwithstanding AS 23.30.135, evidence of efforts to compromise                                    
09       or settle disputed claims and conduct or statements made during mediation may not be                              
10       used as evidence at a hearing under this chapter;                                                                 
11                 (3)  after the first conference, either party may withdraw, or the                                      
12       mediator may terminate mediation if the mediator determines that further mediation                                
13       efforts would be unproductive;                                                                                    
14                 (4)  if the mediator determines that mediation efforts are unsuccessful,                                
15       the mediator shall terminate mediation and notify the board that mediation efforts have                           
16       failed;                                                                                                           
17                 (5)  if the mediation is successful, the mediator may assist the employer                               
18       and the employee in preparing a memorandum of agreement for filing with the board                                 
19       or approval by the board under AS 23.30.012;                                                                      
20                 (6)  if the employer and employee fail to reach an agreement by                                         
21       mediation, the procedure for a hearing under this section shall continue;                                         
22                 (7)  the expense of the mediation may not be assessed against the                                       
23       participants.                                                                                                     
24    * Sec. 2. AS 23.30 is amended by adding a new section to read:                                                     
25            Sec. 23.30.285. Collective bargaining agreements. (a) A collective                                         
26       bargaining agreement negotiated between an employer or a group of employers and a                                 
27       labor organization that represents employees may                                                                  
28                 (1)  establish a process for resolving disputes under this chapter through                              
29       mediation or arbitration, or both; a process established under this paragraph must                                
30       provide that                                                                                                      
31                      (A)  the parties must agree before a particular dispute may be                                     
01            submitted to mediation;                                                                                      
02                      (B)  if mediation fails, the parties shall submit the dispute to                                   
03            arbitration under AS 09.43.300 - 09.43.595;                                                                  
04                      (C)  notwithstanding AS 09.43.300 - 09.43.595, the mediation                                       
05            or arbitration be conducted by a hearing officer or other classified employee of                             
06            the division of workers' compensation;                                                                       
07                      (D)  the mediation or arbitration govern the dispute resolution                                    
08            process under this chapter;                                                                                  
09                      (E)  the dispute resolution process result in findings of fact,                                    
10            award, and a final order or decision by the arbitrator; the award, order, or                                 
11            decision of the arbitrator has the same force and effect as a finding of fact,                               
12            award, order, or decision of a hearing officer under AS 23.30.005;                                           
13                 (2)  identify health care providers who are the exclusive source of                                     
14       medical treatment provided under this chapter; in this paragraph, "health care                                    
15       provider" has the meaning given in AS 09.55.560;                                                                  
16                 (3)  identify independent medical evaluators who are the exclusive                                      
17       source of medical evaluations authorized under this chapter;                                                      
18                 (4)  identify vocational rehabilitation specialists who are the exclusive                               
19       source of vocational rehabilitation services regulated under this chapter;                                        
20                 (5)  establish a joint safety committee with representatives from the                                   
21       employer and the labor organization; and                                                                          
22                 (6)  establish a program for light-duty employment or employment that                                   
23       is modified according to limitations or restrictions imposed by a physician or                                    
24       chiropractor.                                                                                                     
25            (b)  A collective bargaining agreement negotiated under the authority set out in                             
26       (a) of this section may not reduce a benefit set out in this chapter. For purposes of this                        
27       subsection, the process and agreements negotiated under a collective bargaining                                   
28       agreement under (a) of this section may not be construed to diminish a benefit under                              
29       this chapter.                                                                                                     
30            (c)  Competing physicians may meet and communicate to negotiate                                              
31       collectively with a party to a collective bargaining agreement in the same manner as                              
01       the competing physicians may meet and communicate with a health benefit plan                                      
02       concerning the contract terms and conditions under AS 23.50.020 relating to the                                   
03       identity of the health care providers who are the exclusive source of medical treatment                           
04       under (a)(2) of this section.                                                                                     
05            (d)  In this section, "labor organization" means a labor or employee                                         
06       organization of any kind in which employees participate and that exists for the primary                           
07       purpose of dealing with employers concerning grievances, labor disputes, wages, rates                             
08       of pay, hours of employment, and conditions of employment.                                                        
09    * Sec. 3. This Act takes effect July 1, 2013.