Legislature(1995 - 1996)

03/31/1995 03:10 PM L&C

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
           HOUSE LABOR & COMMERCE STANDING COMMITTEE                           
                         March 31, 1995                                        
                           3:10 p.m.                                           
 MEMBERS PRESENT                                                               
 Representative Pete Kott, Chairman                                            
 Representative Jerry Sanders                                                  
 Representative Kim Elton                                                      
 MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                
 Representative Norman Rokeberg, Vice Chairman                                 
 Representative Beverly Masek                                                  
 Representative Brian Porter                                                   
 Representative Gene Kubina                                                    
 COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                            
 *HB 263:  "An Act relating to certification of workers who handle             
           hazardous waste; and providing for an effective date."              
           HEARD AND HELD                                                      
  HB 248:  "An Act relating to application of the Public                       
           Employment Relations Act to municipalities and other                
           political subdivisions."                                            
           HEARD AND HELD                                                      
 (* First public hearing)                                                      
 WITNESS REGISTER                                                              
 GEORGE DOZIER, Legislative Assistant                                          
   to Representative Pete Kott                                                 
 Alaska State Legislature                                                      
 State Capitol, Room 432                                                       
 Juneau, Alaska 99801                                                          
 Telephone:  (907) 465-3777                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Gave sponsor statement for HB 263                        
 ED FLANAGAN, Assistant Commissioner                                           
 Department of Labor                                                           
 P.O. Box 21149                                                                
 Juneau, AK 99802-1149                                                         
 Telephone:  (907) 465-2700                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified on HB 263                                      
 JOSEPH EASAW, Legislative Assistant                                           
   to Representative Al Vezey                                                  
 Alaska State Legislature                                                      
 State Capitol, Room 216                                                       
 Juneau, AK 99801-1182                                                         
 Telephone:  (907) 465-3719                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Gave sponsor statement for HB 248                        
 VERNON MARSHALL, Executive Director                                           
 National Education Association, Alaska                                        
 114 Second Street                                                             
 Juneau, AK 99801                                                              
 Telephone:  (907) 586-3090                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified against HB 248                                 
 REPRESENTATIVE AL VEZEY                                                       
 Alaska State Legislature                                                      
 State Capitol, Room 216                                                       
 Juneau, AK 99801-1182                                                         
 Telephone:  (907) 465-3719                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Prime sponsor of HB 248                                  
 BRUCE LUDWIG, Business Manager                                                
 Alaska Public Employees Association                                           
 Alaska Federation of Teachers                                                 
 Secretary Treasurer, ALASKA STATE AFL-CIO                                     
 211 4th Street, Suite 306                                                     
 Juneau, AK 99801                                                              
 Telephone:  (907) 586-2334                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified against HB 248                                 
 WANDA BONILLAS, Vice President and                                            
 Rights Chair                                                                  
 Kenai Peninsula Educational Support Association                               
 P.O. Box 7177                                                                 
 Nikiski, AK 99635                                                             
 Telephone:  (907) 776-8032                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified against HB 248                                 
 KAREN MAHURIN, President                                                      
 Kenai Peninsula Educational Support Association                               
 P.O. Box 1073                                                                 
 Kenai, AK 99611                                                               
 Telephone:  (907) 283-4697                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified against HB 248                                 
 JACKIE NELSON-LIZARDI, President                                              
 Delta-Greely Education Support Personnel Association                          
 HC 60, Box 4180                                                               
 Delta Junction, AK 99737                                                      
 Telephone:  (907) 895-4217                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified against HB 248                                 
 TRENA RICHARDSON                                                              
 National Education Association, Alaska                                        
 P.O. Box 2278                                                                 
 Soldotna, AK 99669                                                            
 Telephone:  (907) 262-1515                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified against HB 248                                 
 DON ETHERIDGE, Representative                                                 
 District Council of Laborers;                                                 
 and Public Employees Local 71                                                 
 710 West 9th Street                                                           
 Juneau, AK 99801                                                              
 Telephone:  (907) 563-6993                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified against HB 248                                 
 PREVIOUS ACTION                                                               
 BILL:  HB 263                                                               
 SHORT TITLE: CERTIF. OF HAZARDOUS WASTE WORKERS                               
 SPONSOR(S): LABOR & COMMERCE                                                  
 JRN-DATE     JRN-PG                  ACTION                                   
 03/17/95       778    (H)   READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S)                 
 03/17/95       778    (H)   LABOR & COMMERCE, FINANCE                         
 03/29/95              (H)   L&C AT 03:00 PM CAPITOL 17                        
 03/29/95              (H)   MINUTE(L&C)                                       
 03/31/95              (H)   L&C AT 03:00 PM CAPITOL 17                        
 BILL:  HB 248                                                               
 SHORT TITLE: LOCAL EXEMPTION FROM PERA                                        
 SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) VEZEY                                           
 JRN-DATE     JRN-PG                  ACTION                                   
 03/10/95       701    (H)   READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S)                 
 03/10/95       701    (H)   CRA, STATE AFFAIRS, FINANCE                       
 03/17/95       791    (H)   STATE AFFAIRS REPLACED WITH L&C                   
 03/21/95              (H)   CRA AT 01:00 PM CAPITOL 124                       
 03/21/95              (H)   MINUTE(CRA)                                       
 03/22/95       845    (H)   CRA RPT  1DP 1DNP 3NR                             
 03/22/95       845    (H)   DP: VEZEY                                         
 03/22/95       845    (H)   DNP: ELTON                                        
 03/22/95       845    (H)   NR: AUSTERMAN, KOTT, IVAN                         
 03/22/95       845    (H)   ZERO FISCAL NOTE (LABOR)                          
 03/22/95       845    (H)   REFERRED TO LABOR & COMMERCE                      
 03/31/95              (H)   L&C AT 03:00 PM CAPITOL 17                        
 ACTION NARRATIVE                                                              
 TAPE 95-28, SIDE A                                                            
 Number 000                                                                    
 The House Labor and Commerce Standing Committee meeting was                   
 called to order by Representative Pete Kott at 3:10 p.m.  Members             
 present at the call to order were Representatives Kott, Sanders               
 and Elton.  Members absent were Representatives Rokeberg, Masek,              
 Porter and Kubina.                                                            
 CHAIRMAN PETE KOTT announced that they did not have a quorum.                 
 The first order of business would be HB 263, introduced by the                
 House Labor and Commerce Committee, followed by HB 248.  He added             
 that it was not his intent to move either bill from committee.                
 HB 263 - CERTIFICATION TO HAZARDOUS WASTE WORKERS                            
 Number 020                                                                    
 ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE, stated that HB 263 requires the                     
 Department of Labor (DOL) to review certification programs                    
 certifying workers handling hazardous waste at waste sites.  He               
 said the programs themselves would not be administered by the                 
 DOL, rather by employers, labor unions, universities, vocational              
 schools, et cetera.  HB 236 requires the contractor to supply the             
 DOL with a plan for the certification of workers performing                   
 hazardous waste operations, prior to the start of work.  The DOL              
 must approve the plan, and the employer must certify that the                 
 workers are knowledgeable and competent to handle the hazardous               
 waste in a safe manner.                                                       
 MR. DOZIER continued that HB 236 establishes civil and criminal               
 penalties for failure to meet the requirements.  In regards to                
 Section 1, concerning the promulgation of regulations governing               
 the certification, it establishes an immediate effective date.                
 The remainder of the bill has an effective date of January 1,                 
 1996.  The bill sponsor feels that due to the potential hazards               
 inherent with handling dangerous materials, public safety, as                 
 well as employee safety, would be enhanced by enacting the bill               
 into law.                                                                     
 Number 075                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN KOTT added that there was also another provision that                
 once the employer submits their plan to DOL, and if it is found               
 to be unacceptable, DOL will work with that employer to bring the             
 plan up to established guidelines.  He added that there was an                
 error in Section 2, of the bill, regarding AS 46.03.310(b).  He               
 said this should be AS 46.03.319, and that would be a conceptual              
 Number 096                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE KIM ELTON made a motion to adopt Amendment 1.                  
 Number 102                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN KOTT asked him to withdraw the motion because they did               
 not have a quorum.  However, the committee will address that at               
 some point in the future.  He said when you look at the amount of             
 hazardous waste in the state, several of those sites have been                
 identified that will be included on the super fund list.  They                
 need to do everything they can to protect people working in this              
 field.  He believes that the majority of the work would commence              
 this year.  He said they had received many letters in support of              
 HB 236 and also have the backing from DOL.                                    
 CHAIRMAN KOTT noted the fiscal note indicate start up costs of                
 $140,000 for FY96.  However, the main thrust of the bill is                   
 implemented in January, 1996.  Therefore, they would be dealing               
 with the fiscal year versus the calendar year.   He asked if some             
 of those costs could be built into the second half of the fiscal              
 year at the time the rest of the bill becomes effective.                      
 Number 131                                                                    
 that Chairman Kott's suggestion might be possible.  He commended              
 the committee for introducing the legislation, as it addresses a              
 serious need in the state.  The DOL did everything they could to              
 not include the $140,000 in general funds; however, they need to              
 put people on before they can run the program.  He explained that             
 because this program is similar to the Asbestos Certification                 
 Program, they have a real feel for the costs.  That program is                
 funded from program receipts.  He said that DOL would work with               
 staff, the subcommittee, or during the interim, to get the costs              
 into the same fiscal year where the receipts will be there during             
 that fiscal year and they won't have problems with OMB.                       
 MR. FLANAGAN reiterated that HB 263 addresses a real need.  In                
 reference to Chairman Kott's comment about upcoming work, he said             
 that there is a $240 million contract called the Total                        
 Environmental Restoration Contract (TERC), that is currently in               
 the process of being reviewed through the RFP process by the                  
 Corps of Engineers.  He said there are literally billions of                  
 dollars worth of this type of work needing to be done.  As the                
 law currently stands, there are both federal and state OSHA                   
 requirements for forty hours of training.  However, there is no               
 means of enforcement or checking where and how the training was               
 provided.  If there were to be an accident in which a worker was              
 hurt as a result of poor training, there would be grounds to                  
 investigate, but that would be after the fact.  This training                 
 program would insure that the worker is aware of the hazards of               
 the job, what it would do to them if they don't watch out for                 
 their own safety and to be aware if the employer directs things               
 MR. FLANAGAN pointed out that with the Asbestos Program, that                 
 training must be done in state.  This allows the department to do             
 quality control.  As is currently stands, hazardous waste                     
 training can be given anywhere; with HB 163 the hazardous waste               
 certification would require written competency.  This program                 
 would not only help the workers but would also protect the                    
 communities surrounding the areas involved.  The Asbestos                     
 Certification, Hazardous Painting Certification and Explosive                 
 Handlers Certifications are all Certificates of Fitness that the              
 DOL is able to enforce under Occupational Safety and Health                   
 (OSHA), Title 18, the Health and Safety Statute of Alaska.  He                
 said that Title 46 would be somewhat confusing as it is primarily             
 a Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) statute.  He had             
 discussed this with the DEC, not wanting to get into a "turf                  
 war."  The DEC said they did not oppose changing this into a                  
 separate chapter in Title 18.  Regarding the fiscal note, they                
 definitely want to look at creative ways of removing the                      
 Number 204                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE JERRY SANDERS asked how certification would be                 
 Number 208                                                                    
 MR. FLANAGAN replied that a fee would be charged to the                       
 individual being certified.  Currently, to receive a state                    
 Asbestos Abatement License, the individual pays $100, for two                 
 REPRESENTATIVE SANDERS acknowledged that they would receive                   
 license fees.                                                                 
 MR. FLANAGAN replied yes.  There are also fees for the programs               
 to be approved.  These are union training programs, and the                   
 Mining and Petroleum Training Service at the University of                    
 Alaska.  There are private firms, such as the Alaska Health                   
 Project, and all pay $250 per year.                                           
 Number 223                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN KOTT asked if there were further questions for Mr.                   
 Flanagan.  Hearing none, he stated that the committee would work              
 with DOL on changing this from Title 46 to Title 18, also in                  
 reducing the fiscal note down to an acceptable level.                         
 Number 231                                                                    
 MR. FLANAGAN said they were at their disposal and would have the              
 Industrial Hygiene Section, within DOL, work with staff.                      
 Number 233                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE KIM ELTON commented that the fiscal note was a                 
 problem only if people at the Finance Committee level doesn't                 
 take a moment to see that this can't be revenue neutral until the             
 program is in place.                                                          
 Number 240                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN KOTT asked if there were questions or comments on HB
 263.  Hearing none, he closed public testimony and stated he                  
 would defer further hearings on HB 263 until they had worked with             
 DOL on the fiscal note, and with the drafting attorney on                     
 changing the Title.                                                           
 Number 253                                                                    
 HB 248 - LOCAL EXEMPTION FROM PERA                                           
 CHAIRMAN KOTT requested that Joseph Easaw, staff to                           
 Representative Al Vezey, Prime Sponsor of HB 248, give the                    
 sponsor statement.                                                            
 Number 256                                                                    
 ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE, read the following sponsor statement:               
 "The intent of HB 248, `An Act relating to application of the                 
 Public Employment Relations Act to municipalities the option of               
 removing themselves from PERA.'  Under this proposed legislation,             
 a municipality could make such a decision with the approval of                
 the voters of the municipality.                                               
 "It was the intent of the 1972 legislation to allow                           
 municipalities to opt out of PERA.  As the law currently exists,              
 a municipality under PERA for all practical purposes, cannot                  
 remove themselves.  This determination has been brought about by              
 decisions of the court.  This condition has resulted in                       
 diminished control over local self determination.                             
 "Existing legislation as interpreted by the courts has put local              
 governing bodies in a position where one governing body can                   
 obligate all future governing bodies.  This bill is intended to               
 correct what the legislature has inadvertently allowed the court              
 to mandate on local governments by placing the decision making                
 process back into the hands of local governing officials and the              
 Number 280                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN KOTT asked if there were any questions from the                      
 committee.  Hearing none, he stated that there were people in                 
 Juneau and also on the teleconference line that wished to                     
 ASSOCIATION (NEA) ALASKA, testified that NEA Alaska opposes HB
 248.  This bill would allow municipalities or other political                 
 subdivisions, including school districts, to conduct elections to             
 determine if employees are to continue to bargain under the                   
 provisions of PERA.  He said since the early 70s, state policy                
 extended the statutory right to bargain to public employees.                  
 School employees struggled over ten years to establish their                  
 rights under PERA.  The schools and school employees have                     
 developed a successful pattern of bargaining under PERA for                   
 nearly six years.                                                             
 MR. MARSHALL stated that if HB 248 is enacted into law, good                  
 faith bargaining would be compromised, giving way to politics.                
 Page 1, lines 12, 13, and 14, allow voters to annually vote in or             
 out of PERA.  Management or school boards could use that                      
 provision to disrupt bargaining when employees move to bargain in             
 a particular year.  If this is enacted, some school districts                 
 will opt in or continue, some districts would opt out, which                  
 causes inequity.  They are concerned about the inequity in school             
 districts, not only in the area of salaries, but also of rights.              
 Inequity would be exacerbated.  The concern is one of funding for             
 schools if there's elections for opt in or opt out.  The right to             
 strike was the option that was most agreeable to the parties who              
 sat down at that time.  They have had one strike since the                    
 enactment of the law.  That issue was a community issue, and it               
 concerned the community.  This option is a local control option.              
 He urged the committee not to pass HB 248.                                    
 CHAIRMAN KOTT acknowledged Representative Al Vezey had joined the             
 Number 355                                                                    
 LEGISLATURE, emphasized that HB 248 provided for more democratic              
 control of local governments.  Communities can vote to opt out of             
 PERA or opt in to PERA.                                                       
 Number 368                                                                    
 SECRETARY TREASURER, ALASKA STATE AFL-CIO, testified that they                
 oppose HB 248 because of the instability created by the bill.                 
 They could have bargaining one year and the next year might not               
 have the right to bargain.  HB 248 would make bargaining illegal              
 absent enabling legislation.  He pointed out two situations where             
 bargaining was illegal.  One was in New York under the Taylor                 
 Act, and the other was in Ohio under the Fergussen Act.  There                
 were numerous strikes in both situations, and both laws were                  
 eventually repealed and a collective bargaining statutes were                 
 enacted.  In the mid 70s, San Francisco passed Proposition O,                 
 which gave voters the right to approve  contracts.  Voters have               
 rights to elect people that would sit on boards who would approve             
 the contracts.  The law specifically says you cannot have a                   
 contract longer than three years.  The Supreme Court, in rulings              
 after the enactment of PERA, defined the mechanism whereby                    
 bargaining comes to a conclusion. You can't keep bargaining                   
 forever.  The employer has the right to impose terms if an                    
 agreement is not reached.  He said HB 248 might sound good on its             
 face as a democratic bill, but they believe that it would do                  
 nothing but disrupt local communities and create hardship and                 
 monetary costs.                                                               
 Number 403                                                                    
 EDUCATIONAL SUPPORT ASSOCIATION (KPSA), testified from Kenai via              
 teleconference.  She read the following statement:                            
 "Years ago before we were under PERA, all we were permitted to do             
 was meet and confer with the Administration and hope that they                
 would listen to some of the things that we were saying.  Once we              
 were under PERA, the Administration was then forced to negotiate              
 with us and listen to what we were saying.  Please do not vote                
 for a bill that will eliminate our ability to bargain for the                 
 rights we should have."                                                       
 Number 415                                                                    
 KAREN MAHURIN, PRESIDENT, KPESA, testified from Kenai via                     
 teleconference.  She read her statement into the record:                      
 "Since 1981, I have either been a member or chair of our                      
 bargaining team that has bargained the past six negotiated                    
 agreements.  Three agreements are under the old Title 14, "meet               
 and confer" days, one agreement after passage of the collective               
 bargaining law, and two agreements under PERA.                                
 "Our past two rounds of bargaining under PERA have been the most              
 productive and positive experiences KPESA has had at the table.               
 For the first time they were able to clearly define our                       
 bargaining unit - this came about through a genuine give and take             
 process.  We also have agreed to language language in several                 
 areas that both the district and our association had spent                    
 innumerable hours in trying to solve problems and/or grievances               
 due to unclear and incomplete language.  Protected bargaining, as             
 you know, leads to expense for both the employer and the employee             
 association, as well as building tensions and frustrations.                   
 "The other important aspect of PERA is access to the Alaska Labor             
 Relations Agency.  Prior to PERA, the only way to settle a                    
 conflict was through the courts.  Not only does PERA work for the             
 employees, but also with the employer.  To continue working and               
 negotiating under PERA means that there is a fair and eqitable                
 means to finality in the bargaining process and an avenue to                  
 settle labor disputes.  PERA provides the employer and the                    
 employee an equal balance.                                                    
 "If HB 248 becomes law, labor relations between school districts              
 and school employees would be disrupted.  Good faith bargaining               
 would give way to politics.  A majority of the legislators, after             
 carefully weighing the facts and information, signed the                      
 Declaration of Policy, Section 23.40.070, `The legislature finds              
 that joint decision making is the modern way of administering                 
 She urged the committee to please vote no on HB 248.                          
 Number 450                                                                    
 SUPPORT PERSONNEL ASSOCIATION, testified via teleconference from              
 Delta Junction.  She read the following statement:                            
 "Please vote against HB 248.  Do not propel us back into the dark             
 ages that existed before PERA.  As school employees, we have been             
 the step children of public employee families for too long.                   
 Title 14 allowed us to be abused by the school board and                      
 administrators across the state.  PERA corrected that injustice.              
 Education employees throughout Alaska have fought long and hard               
 to achieve the right of due process afforded us through PERA.                 
 Don't (indisc.) time to run up on the equitable treatment of                  
 school employees.  Make PERA permanent and extend the right to                
 school employees which are provided other Alaska Public                       
 Employees.  Please vote no on HB 248, thereby, allowing us to                 
 maintain our dignity through equity in bargaining.  As a school               
 employee, we already have to life with the inequity of not being              
 allowed to receive unemployment compensation during the summer                
 months in a non-work status, through another legislative edict.               
 Don't make us your whipping boys for yet another injustice by                 
 passing this reprehensible bill.  I'm one of approximately 20,000             
 education employees in Alaska awaiting your no vote on HB 248.                
 Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter."                    
 Number 468                                                                    
 teleconference from Kenai/Soldotna.  She stated that it has only              
 been in the past few years that school employees have been                    
 allowed to participate as a full member to PERA and with rights               
 to the Alaska Labor Relations Board.  HB 248 has the potential to             
 create an inequitable (indisc.) system, within the state of                   
 Alaska, where some public and school employees would have the                 
 right to bargain, others would have a very limited rights to                  
 bargain because of the passage of such a law.  She believes HB
 248 would create instability in communities.  The potential to                
 bargain or not to bargain, would create extremes in (indisc.)                 
 rights, which could cause a constant change in people who are                 
 employed in our schools.  A school that has an unstable body of               
 employees, cannot provide quality education for the students of               
 Alaska.  She commented that people say students are Alaska's most             
 important resource, and yet it seems that currently students, and             
 people who are serving students to create an adult population                 
 that will make the state functional in the future, are constantly             
 taking hits from the legislature and other areas.  We have a                  
 republican form of government as Ms. Mahuren stated earlier.                  
 Voters have the right to vote for the people who represent them.              
 If they don't believe they are being represented fairly in the                
 deals with their public and school employees, they have the right             
 to elect another representative.  If you truly believe, as a                  
 committee and body, that this form of legislation should work for             
 collective bargaining, then I would like to suggest that perhaps              
 the voters of Alaska be allowed to vote on all filings and                    
 benefits for state legislators and the people that work in your               
 offices.  Please defeat HB 248.                                               
 Number 493                                                                    
 PUBLIC EMPLOYEES LOCAL 71, testified in opposition of HB 248.                 
 They feel it's an anti-union bill that denies employees their                 
 right to organize and participate in their wage structures,                   
 working conditions, and safety conditions.  It destroys morale                
 and discourages productivity amongst employees.  It politicizes               
 the public employment of the area.  Management dictation would be             
 enhanced.  HB 248 would be a regressive move for public                       
 employees.  He told the committee he worked for the state of                  
 Alaska prior to having the right to bargain.  They spent a lot of             
 time with the legislature in trying to get their raise and most               
 the time they went home with nothing.  They were so far down on               
 the pay scale that as full time employees most of them qualified              
 for welfare and food stamps.  He would hate to see this happen                
 Number 517                                                                    
 testified, for the record, that the DOL is opposed to HB 248 and              
 the inherent unfairness of removing a right already granted and               
 would seriously disrupt labor relations.  It would upset a system             
 system that is already is working.  There is nothing democratic               
 in denying people the right to organize for purposes of free and              
 fair association.                                                             
 CHAIRMAN KOTT asked if there was anyone else wishing to testify               
 on HB 248.  Hearing none, he closed public testimony and                      
 reiterated that it was not his intent to move the bill.                       
 There being no further business to come before the House Labor &              
 Commerce Committee, Chairman Kott adjourned the meeting at 4:00               

Document Name Date/Time Subjects