Legislature(1995 - 1996)
03/31/1995 03:10 PM L&C
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= 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 GEORGE DOZIER, LEGISLATIVE ASSISTANT TO REPRESENTATIVE PETE KOTT, 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 amendment. 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 ED FLANAGAN, ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER, DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, stated 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 improperly. 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 obstacle. Number 204 REPRESENTATIVE JERRY SANDERS asked how certification would be billed. 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 years. 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 JOSEPH EASAW, LEGISLATIVE ASSISTANT TO REPRESENTATIVE AL VEZEY, 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 people." 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 testify. VERNON MARSHALL, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL EDUCATION 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 committee. Number 355 REPRESENTATIVE AL VEZEY, PRIME SPONSOR OF HB 248, ALASKA STATE 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 BRUCE LUDWIG, BUSINESS MANAGER, ALASKA PUBLIC EMPLOYEES ASSOCIATION (APEA); ALASKA FEDERATION OF TEACHERS (AFT); AND 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 WANDA BONILLAS, VICE PRESIDENT AND RIGHTS CHAIR, KENAI PENINSULA 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 government.'" She urged the committee to please vote no on HB 248. Number 450 JACKIE NELSON-LIZARDI, PRESIDENT, THE DELTA-GREELY EDUCATION 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 TRENA RICHARDSON, REGION III DIRECTOR, NEA-ALASKA, testified via 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 DON ETHERIDGE, REPRESENTATIVE, DISTRICT COUNCIL OF LABORERS; 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 again. Number 517 ED FLANAGAN, ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER, DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, 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. ADJOURNMENT There being no further business to come before the House Labor & Commerce Committee, Chairman Kott adjourned the meeting at 4:00 p.m.