Legislature(1997 - 1998)
04/15/1997 01:38 PM L&C
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SENATE LABOR AND COMMERCE COMMITTEE April 15, 1997 1:38 P.M. MEMBERS PRESENT Senator Loren Leman, Chairman Senator Jerry Mackie, Vice Chairman Senator Tim Kelly MEMBERS ABSENT Senator Mike Miller Senator Lyman Hoffman COMMITTEE CALENDAR SENATE BILL NO. 162 "An Act relating to payment of minimum wages to tipped employees; and providing for an effective date." - MOVED SB 162 OUT OF COMMITTEE HOUSE BILL NO. 138 "An Act relating to the Board of Storage Tank Assistance; and providing for an effective date." - MOVED HB 138 OUT OF COMMITTEE SENATE BILL NO. 110 "An Act relating to licensure of landscape architects." - MOVED CSSB 110(L&C) OUT OF COMMITTEE SENATE BILL NO. 152 "An Act relating to certified nurse aides; and providing for an effective date." - MOVED CSSB 152(L&C) OUT OF COMMITTEE SENATE BILL NO. 169 "An Act relating to an exemption from the requirement for payment for overtime under a voluntary work hour plan for work performed by employees at certain mines; and providing for an effective date." - HEARD AND HELD PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION SB 162 - See Labor and Commerce minutes dated 4/10/97. HB 138 - See Labor and Commerce minutes dated 4/10/97. SB 110 - No previous action to consider. SB 152 - No previous action to consider. SB 169 - No previous action to consider. WITNESS REGISTER Mr. John Barnett Board of Storage Tank Assistance Department of Environmental Conservation 410 Willoughby Ave., Ate. 105 Juneau AK 99801-1795 POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 138. Mr. Ed Flanagan, Deputy Commissioner Department of Labor P.O. Box 21149 Juneau AK 99802-1149 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 162 and SB 169. Mr. John Brown 814 Austin Fairbanks AK 99701 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 162. Ms. Kathy Gardner, President Alaska Professional Design Council 3705 Arctic, #223 Anchorage AK 99503 POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 110. Mr. Duayne Adams, Landscape Architect Land Design North 510 L St., Ste 101 Anchorage AK 99503 POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 110. Mr. Christopher Mertl, President Elect Alaska Chapter American Society of Landscape Architects P.O. Box 20171 Juneau AK 99802 POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 110. Ms. Jean Smith, Staff Senator Jerry Mackie State Capitol Bldg. Juneau AK 99801 POSITION STATEMENT: Staff to sponsor of SB 110. Ms. Catherine Reardon, Director Division of Occupational Licensing Department of Commerce and Economic Development P.O. Box 110806 Juneau AK 99811-0806 POSITION STATEMENT: Commented on SB 110 and SB 152. Ms. Annette Kreitzer, Staff Senator Loren Leman State Capitol Bldg. Juneau AK 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Staff to sponsor of SB 152 and SB 169. Mr. Ron Cowan 4730 Business Park Blvd., #18 Anchorage AK 99503 POSITION STATEMENT: Commented on SB 152. Mr. Tom Irwin, Operations Manager Fort Knox 436 Forest Hills Fairbanks AK 99709 POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 169. Ms. Michelle Steel, Human Resource Technician Fort Knox Mine 221 Dunbar Ave. Fairbanks AK 99701 POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 169. Ms. Carol Desnoyers Alaskan Workers P.O. Box 33 Healy AK 99743 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 169. Mr. Dan Seaton Teamsters (Local 959) 1315 Ismailov St. Kodiak AK 99615 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 169. Mr. Jerry Marshall Fort Knox Gold 724 Love Rd. Fairbanks AK 99712 POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 169. Mr. Darrell McSpadden Teamsters 959 2597 Lana Turnabout Ct. North Pole AK 99705 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 169. Mr. Jim Clark, Attorney Fort Knox P.O. Box 1210 Juneau AK 99801 POSITION STATEMENT: Commented on SB 169. ACTION NARRATIVE TAPE 97-19, SIDE A Number 001 SB 162 MINIMUM WAGE FOR TIPPED EMPLOYEES CHAIRMAN LEMAN called the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee meeting to order at 1:38 p.m. and announced SB 162 to be up for consideration. MR. FLANAGAN, Deputy Commissioner, Department of Labor, opposed SB 162 because it basically reduces wages effective October 1 and every time thereafter that the federal minimum wage, and then resultantly, the State minimum wage which is 50 cents higher, is increased. He said he had met with the proponents of the bill and done research based on information provided to them by employers in the form of their U.I. tax reports. He said there is much talk about servers making $40,000 per year he didn't doubt that in certain high end restaurants in Anchorage, but he is concerned about servers at the lower end like the fast food types of restaurants. Their research indicates that for every server making $40,000 per year there are several making a whole lot less. In 1995, 5,900 persons in Alaska earned the majority of their wages that year in Alaska, including reported tips, as waiters and waitresses. They found that 1,500 of these were employed as servers in all four quarters of the year and made an average of $12,213. Seventy five percent of the 1,500 earned less than $16,139. They found that many, if not most, Alaskan waiters and waitresses would not meet anyone's definition of highly paid employees. They don't question what was some testimony from the higher end restaurants, but those people are a very small minority of the people employed out there as waiters and waitresses. Number 66 MR. JOHN BROWN, Fairbanks, said he is shocked by this bill and it is so anti-worker that it takes the cake. To try and say that the people in the service industry are overpaid boggles his mind. He said there is no protection for the kind of abuse that will likely go on if this bill passes. He could see employers coercing their employees into working for tips, even if they don't make the $5.75. He said there was a whole room full of people with him who would like to testify against this and other anti-worker bills. Number 161 CHAIRMAN LEMAN noted that this committee had never stated that the workers in Alaska are overpaid and it's not his intent that this would result in the abuse of workers. SENATOR JERRY MACKIE noted that he had mixed feelings about this bill, but would make a motion to move it from committee with individual recommendations. There were no objections and it was so ordered. HB 138 BOARD OF STORAGE TANK ASSISTANCE CHAIRMAN LEMAN announced HB 138 to be up for consideration. MR. JOHN BARNETT, Executive Director, Board of Storage Tank Assistance, said that they have three roles assigned to them by the legislature. They are basically an appeal board to mediate disputes, review regulations presented to the department, and set the ranking criteria for financial assistance applications. CHAIRMAN LEMAN said the bill did two things: extends the sunset date and takes the DOT/PF member off and replaces him with a member of the public. MR. BARNETT responded that he agreed with that and he said the public member would be the Commissioner's designee. SENATOR KELLY said that in general adding a public member who knows nothing about the industry they are about to regulate is an 80s fad that he has backed off on. However, that being said, he moved to pass HB 138 from committee with individual recommendations. CHAIRMAN LEMAN objected to agree with Senator Kelly and asked Mr. Barnett to take back the message that if this passes they would like to see someone appointed who may not have a financial interest, but who may know something about the topic and could provide good service to the board. MR. BARNETT responded that their intention was to get someone who was involved with municipal water systems who doesn't have an involvement directly with tanks, but might be impacted by leaking tanks. CHAIRMAN LEMAN removed his objection and HB 138 was reported out of committee. SB 110 LICENSING OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTS CHAIRMAN LEMAN announced SB 110 to be up for consideration. SENATOR MACKIE, sponsor, said he would prefer to hear testimony at this time. MS. KATHY GARDNER, President, Alaska Professional Design Council, said that landscape architects are an integral part of the design process and it's important that they be on a parallel professional level with other design professionals. Architects and engineers are currently responsible for certifying life and safety in areas in which they are not educated specifically, such areas as playgrounds, plantings in rights-of-way, and planting in view triangles at intersections. Licensure will ensure that landscape architects are professionally responsible for those portions of work that they design removing the liability incurred by other design professions. She added that most states in the lower 48 recognize landscape architects as a professional group. Federal contracting requires licensed landscape architects and that has impacted Alaskan landscape architects preventing them from pursuing some federal work in Alaska or maintaining licenses from outside. MR. DUAYNE ADAMS, landscape architect, said they work parallel to engineers, architects, and land surveyors. It is listed by request for proposal, they fill out the standard form for qualification for professional services, and they enter into professional services agreements. He noted that 45 other states require licensure especially on federal projects. He said there are also certified safety issues as well, like view triangles in highway rights-of-way and playgrounds. MR. ADAMS said that wetland design, treatment of storm water, knowledge of the survival of plant materials, and the requirements of manufactured materials is very important for ensuring that water quality and public infrastructure are protected. As an owner of a landscape architecture firm, he is very concerned about the business aspects of licensure. They are at a disadvantage competing on several works. In the neighborhood of $1 - $2 million worth of work over the last four years has gone to out-of-state firms, like the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center, Mendenhall Glacier Campground, Glacier Bay Employee Housing, and the Denali Hotel, to name a few. The Board said in a letter that they do generally support landscape architecture for licensure, but that this bill needed more work and appointed an individual to work with. They have worked with that individual and he has stated that everything appears to be in order. MR. CHRISTOPHER MERTL, President-elect, Alaska Chapter, American Society of Landscape Architects, said he lived in a lot of places and everywhere he's been there's been licensing of landscape architects. One of the main issues is that they design public spaces. They are not gardeners and tree planters; they design outdoor spaces for people. Everything seen from a building out is often designed by a landscape architect. These are spaces that everybody uses every day. He said that landscape architects are not licensed and are disadvantaged when it comes to getting contracts in-state which means that Alaskan dollars and jobs are being lost to outside states. With no state minimum for landscape architects there's the possibility of a wide variety of individuals with varied education and experience designing these used spaces. MR. MERTL explained that they go through the same education process as engineers and architects. They go to university for five years and often do an internship of two - three years; and then they have to pass a series of national exams. In conclusion, he said he supported SB 110. Number 322 MS. CATHERINE REARDON, Director, Division of Occupational Licensing, said several people had seen her over the past two years on this legislation and she appreciated their attempts to address her concerns. Her personal preference would be a title restriction rather than a mandatory licensure law because she is unsure whether the public health and safety risks of unlicensed landscape architecture warrants prohibition against people performing some of the scopes of practice that are in the bill. She liked the provisions allowing her to spread the costs of the program equally among the licensees so that the landscape architect's costs will be reasonable. She also liked the language allowing the board, through regulations, to make the determinations that some activities do not require licenses because of low public health and safety risk. She was also concerned whether there would be a sufficient number of landscape architects available in the State to cover the scopes of practice in the more remote areas. CHAIRMAN LEMAN asked if she objected to his amendment allowing the name of the board to stay the same, but to allow the practice of landscape architects to be incorporated under that board. MS. REARDON said she had no objection at all. CHAIRMAN LEMAN said there were two other substantive amendments. MS. REARDON said she was familiar with them from the last legislature. She said her concern was that it seemed that the boundaries between the professions were confusing. CHAIRMAN LEMAN responded that he thought there might be some overlap, for instance, her example of road embankments, and he wouldn't want to preclude anyone from doing that if it fell within the scope of their services and that's why he wanted the clarifying amendment. MS. REARDON asked if the Chairman thought doing landscaping around a building was generally thought to be within the scope of architecture. CHAIRMAN LEMAN answered that generally that would be in architecture or landscape architecture, but drainage was in the area of engineering. Number 400 MS. JEAN SMITH, staff to Senator Mackie, explained the main change to the proposed CS was on page 14, lines 5 - 16 essentially eliminated the addition of a permanent voting landscape architect to the board. This would not only eliminate the fiscal impact a permanent member would have, but would meet their intent to have a landscape architect as a resource person during the initial regulation process. SENATOR KELLY said he would support that in the interests of getting them up and running. He moved to adopt the CS to SB 110. There were no objections and it was so ordered. SENATOR KELLY moved to adopt conceptual amendment #1 wherever the board is referenced by name to delete the words "and landscape architects." SENATOR MACKIE objected saying that's what the bill does, put them in the board. CHAIRMAN LEMAN explained that the function would still be in there. SENATOR MACKIE asked why he wanted to take them out. CHAIRMAN LEMAN answered because that is the existing name and it just lengthened it. All six disciplines within engineering aren't listed either. Furthermore, they checked with legal drafting and there is no legal reason to not do it. SENATOR MACKIE removed his objection. There were no further objections and it was so adopted. CHAIRMAN LEMAN explained that amendment #2 added a paragraph to section 23 saying, "This chapter does not prohibit the practice of landscape architecture by a person who is not registered to practice landscape architecture, if the services being performed by the person are within the scope of practice authorized by another license that is held by the person." SENATOR KELLY commented that this was discussed three years ago and was to protect landowners who hire people to mow grass in the summer time. SENATOR MACKIE moved to adopt amendment #2. There were no objections and it was so adopted. CHAIRMAN LEMAN explained that amendment #3 added subparagraph (c) that says, "Notwithstanding the definition of the practice of landscape architecture in AS08.48.341 a registered landscape architect may not perform or offer to perform a service described in AS08.48.341.17 if that service also requires registration as an architect or engineer unless the landscape architect is also registered as an architect or engineer as applicable. SENATOR MACKIE asked how they can do it now without this language. SENATOR KELLY said that at one time he thought landscape architecture was trying to get into engineering areas. He said he wasn't sure of the language, but for today's purpose he moved to adopt amendment #3. CHAIRMAN LEMAN announced an at ease from 2:12 - 2:14 p.m. Number 463 MR. DUAYNE ADAMS commented that in talking with Catherine Reardon, he was concerned that it read that any other design profession can do landscape architecture, but landscape architects can't do what others can do. So that left a lot of room for interpretation and in essence the standard of practice is really based on education and what a professional has been taught and can take liability for. He saw no more grey area than exists between architects and structural engineers and that has been a peaceable existence for some time. This issue is already covered adequately by the standards of professional practices as well as existing licensure law. He recommends that the committee not adopt this amendment because it does open those questions that Ms. Reardon is concerned with. CHAIRMAN LEMAN asked that he be allowed to withdraw the amendment. SENATOR KELLY said his only concern is if the person who comes to his house this summer to mow his lawn and do a little bit of gardening is allowed to do that. CHAIRMAN LEMAN responded that he thought that was covered in amendment #2. MR. ADAMS said there is a specific provision in the legislation that says the practice of landscape architecture only covers those areas that are within the purview of public health and safety. This does not preclude a gardener from doing anything as long as it's not a threat to public health and safety. CHAIRMAN LEMAN announced that hearing no objection, amendment #3 was withdrawn and he said the last amendment was #4 and noted that it was on page 12, line 2 to be consistent with legislation they have already moved. There were no objections, and amendment #4 passed. SENATOR MACKIE moved to pass CSSB 110(L&C) with individual recommendations. There were no objections and it was so ordered. Number 560 SB 152 CERTIFIED NURSE AIDES CHAIRMAN LEMAN announced SB 152 to be up for consideration. MS. ANNETTE KREITZER, Staff to Senator Leman, sponsor, explained that the Alaska Nurses Association requested SB 152 which deals with certified nurse aides. Although certification of nurse aides has been administered by the Division of Occupational Licensing, there is no provision for revocation of certificates for inappropriate behavior. In response to changes in federal law, SB 152 allows for the creation of a certified nurse aide registry to include the information required when a nurse aide is found to have committed abuse, neglect, or misappropriation of property in connection with their employment as a nurse aide. SB 152 provides a mechanism for the Department of Health and Social Services to alert the Board of Nursing to inappropriate behavior by a certified nurse aide when that occurs in a state licensed facility. The legislation protects the health, safety, and welfare of a vulnerable population served by certified nurse aides as well as ensuring competency in the performance of nurse aide duties. She said basically the bill creates new sections giving the Board of Nursing the authority to regulate and certify nurse aides. MS. KREITZER noted there was one amendment that corrects an oversight on page 3, lines 14 - 15, use of the title by inserting the abbreviation "(CNA)". CHAIRMAN LEMAN asked if anyone was opposed to SB 152. There were no objections to it. He noted that he had Ron Cowan, Dorothy Fulton, Patricia Senner, and Louise Dean signed up to testify via teleconference and said if he could enter their support on record. There were no objections. MS. REARDON , Division of Licensing, said that the House had some issues with the companion bill to SB 152. She said the Administrative Procedures Act that came up in committee exempted the Division of Occupational Licensing and Board of Nursing from the APA in more places than they intended to exempt themselves which raised some concerns about due process in the other body. The effect of this amendment would be to limit their exemption from the APA to only the actions referred to on page 4, line 15. If the Department of Health and Social Services has already given due process to someone and found the person to have abused a patient, they can immediately revoke their license without having to give a second hearing since they just had their first hearing in HESS. This is the only procedure from which they wanted an exemption from the APA. TAPE 97-19, SIDE B SENATOR KELLY moved to adopt amendment #1. There were no objections and it was adopted. SENATOR MACKIE moved to adopt amendment #2. There were no objections and it was adopted. MS. REARDON clarified amendment #3 was on page 3, line 1 changed "may" to "shall". She said it was pointed out that the board "shall" issue certification to a qualified person. It's not an optional activity. The final item is saying when they mail out notice to an individual that their license has been revoked due to their appearance on the abuse registry, they need to send it certified so there is proof of mailing. SENATOR MACKIE moved to adopted amendment #3. There were no objections and it was adopted. MS. REARDON said the last issue was concerning line 22 regarding a single subject, rules, and titles which lead them to want to eliminate section 16. This has to do with when other agencies can reveal confidential information from their investigations of abuse to them. She said this needs to be clarified, but it causes problems in this bill. CHAIRMAN LEMAN said he thought that health professionals, other than nurse aides, should be covered under other legislation. MS. REARDON said that was her initial impression also. Department of Law raised the possibility that specifically mentioning CNAs weakens their legal claim to ever get that information out for other professionals because the legislature specifically addressed it for these people. CHAIRMAN LEMAN explained that amendment #4 deleted section 16. MR. RON COWAN asked if they could wait to adopt amendment #4 until they could talk to other agencies that are going to be affected by that change. They are not certain that deleting the entire section 16 is needed to fix the problem. CHAIRMAN LEMAN said that whatever is taken out can be put back in and if this is going to get through the legislature this year, it needed to be moved. MR. COWAN withdrew his objection. SENATOR MACKIE moved to delete section 16 as amendment #4. There were no objections and it was so ordered. SENATOR MACKIE moved to pass CSSB 152(L&C) from committee with individual recommendations. There were no objections and it was so ordered. SB 169 VOLUNTARY FLEX TIME FOR MINES CHAIRMAN LEMAN announced SB 169 to be up for consideration. He announced an at ease from 2:33 p.m. - 2:35 p.m. He said although it is not his intention to move the bill today, those who are interested can provide written testimony to the committee and he said that the five hours of testimony from the House would become part of the committee's record, also. MS. KREITZER, Staff to Senate Labor and Commerce Committee, said SB 169 changes the current employee, voluntary, flexible work hour provisions in AS28.10. Under current law an employer must pay an employee one and one half times the regular rate of pay for any hours worked in excess of 40 hours a week or 8 hours a day. However, the law also provides that the Department of Labor may approve a written agreement between an employer and employee, increasing the regular pay hours to 10 hours per day, a long as no more than 40 hours per week are worked when the employee has entered into a voluntary flexible work hour plan. SB 169 permits the Department of Labor to approve a written plan between the employer and employee increasing the regular pay hours to 12 per day, but not more than 40 per week. MR. TOM IRWIN, Operations Manager, Fort Knox, supported SB 169. He said he was here really at the request of the employees who are working eight hour shifts and want to change it to 12 hour shifts. He said they sent out petitions and received a 98% approval rating. This bill would give their employees significant benefits allowing them to work 168 hours every four weeks, but they would have 14 days off in that time period instead of seven giving them a total of 91 more days off per year. He stressed that they still intend to pay overtime over 40 hours. Their overtime pay with this bill will increase by 2.3% which is $250,000 per year. With current law, they would pay $1.5 million per year or $18 million over the life of the mine. He said the mine makes between $200 - $230 per ounce, but they have $180 million in acquisition and predevelopment costs. They have $375 million in capital costs and estimate $30 million more of sustaining capital. The bills need to be paid and Fort Knox is a low grade project, but with correct operations and management it is now, and will continue, to be a viable mine Alaska can be proud of. MR. IRWIN said that they had looked into using the 10 hour flex plan except to work the two hours overtime which was originally suggested by Commissioner Cashen. Later the Deputy Commissioner testified that was illegal. Proposals have been made to drop the pay for employees by Mr. Frye, AFL-CIO, and there were 13 areas where their employees would get hurt by doing that. They would lose in their short and long term disability, they would have reductions in life insurance and accidental death and dismemberment insurance, reductions in military pay leaves, and reductions in workers compensation benefits (all which are set by State law). It has been suggested that they form their own union and a legal opinion they got on the matter said it would be a clear violation of National Labor Relations and employees could lose their rights. The legal opinion said it also bordered on fraud. MR. IRWIN said that Alaska is the only state where miners of this wage cannot work with this 12 hour exemption. It is being fought for in Nevada and California. He said they want fairness and for their employees to be able to make their own choices especially since this schedule is a factor that affects their families and children. He said this would allow the employees to have one of the best work schedules he's seen allowing them time to go home and have quality time with their families. MS. MICHELLE STEEL, Human Resource Technician, Fort Knox Mine, supported SB 169. She said she has worked a 10 hour day four days a week under a flexible work hour plan under the current law. It's very nice and it's good to be able to choose her schedule. It reduces the number of times she has to commute to the mine, about 25 miles each way (45 minutes). She said most importantly it allows her to have an additional day with her family. She said her position at the mine allows her to know every employee and all of their dependents and the request for the 12 hour flexible work hour plan is supported by the employees and their families. She is aware that local hire is a major concern and assured them that this is not designed to help employees to commute from out-of-state. In fact, all 248 employees are Alaska residents and she said that nearly all of them were hired within the State of Alaska. MS. STEEL said they are proud to work for a company whose management addresses concerns and issues that are pertinent to her family. She said this would allow her 91 more days per year to spend together with her family. SENATOR KELLY asked if she currently works four 10s. MS. STEEL replied that she started out working that schedule, but now she is working eight hour days, five days per week, but she will return to the other schedule as soon as she can. SENATOR KELLY asked how many of the 248 employees at Fort Knox want to move to a 12 hour shift. MS. STEEL said that 98% of the employees are in favor of that. Number 364 MS. CAROL DESNOYERS, Alaskan Workers, opposed SB 169. She said they should remember that Fort Knox is trying to change a State labor law that was enacted to protect the workers from an abuse of excess work hours each day by penalizing the employer while compensating the worker when they do. Despite the narrowed down version of this bill, it will still have repercussions in other industries and other mining areas. For instance, Usibelli Coal Mine just asked its workers to give up their overtime. Carlisle Trucking also is asking for exemptions as well. She said Alaska is beginning to see a new era in the mining industries. She named three mines that were opening up and said hundreds of thousand of acres were just recently opened to mining exploration bringing jobs that would be directly affected by this law. AMAX has a legacy of backing legislation in other states that erode workers wages as well as their rights - all under the guise of making their employees' schedules more liveable and family friendly. Anyone who has lived in Alaska for any length of time has had to endure hardships to make a living. The bottom line on hardships is the cost of living, much of which is offset by the overtime pay. SB 169 and HB 68 threaten to erode the wages and rights of workers and the majority of Alaskan workers are really appalled that such a bill would be considered. MS. DESNOYERS said that AMAX says the only feasible way they can give their workers the schedule they are requesting is through an overtime exemption caused by the fluctuating gold prices and cost overruns in construction. She added that also due to the hard work of the employees AMAX expects to make their production curve six months ahead of schedule this year and is expected to save $20 million on projected cost overruns and that recent exploration tests indicated an additional 2.7 million ounces of gold. She also noted that AMAX hedges their gold prices to keep from having to deal with fluctuating gold prices on the market. The employees at Fort Knox are an asset to the mine and AMAX would be wise to recognize that and give them the schedule they have asked for and pay them the overtime they would have earned in that schedule rather than using them as pawns to change the State labor laws that are there to protect the rights of all the Alaskan workers. CHAIRMAN LEMAN asked who she thought Fort Knox should be accommodating, the 97% of employees who want the change or the other 3%. MS. DESNOYERS replied she thought they should recognize their workers as an asset that has already proven to make more money for them. CHAIRMAN LEMAN said that testimony stated the workers would make $70 more per cycle and yet she is suggesting taking money away. MS. DESNOYERS replied that AMAX should recognize their workers as an asset and pay them what they are worth. SENATOR MACKIE asked where she works. She replied that she is a nonunion worker and works in a gift shop. Her husband has worked in the mining industry in both union and nonunion jobs. SENATOR MACKIE said he thought Chairman Leman was trying to say that this would give people more time with their families and pay them more money and asked if she didn't think that was accurate. MS. DESNOYERS said she is saying that a State labor law that has been enacted to protect the rights of all the Alaskan workers shouldn't be changed when accommodations could be made at the mine by giving the workers schedules they want and paying them what they are worth. Number 267 MR. DAN SEATON , Teamsters Local 959, opposed SB 169 because once it is granted to one group of people, it's not going to be able to be denied to other industries whether it be construction or whatever. He lives in a very small town, Kodiak, where people are very dependent upon seasonal work. Without the overtime rates through the summer months, the cannery industry, the freight industry, and the construction industry a lot of people will not be able to make it through the winter months, especially considering the high cost of living in the small villages. MR. SEATON said he thought everyone needed to step back and think about what everyone and their fathers went through and fought to get a fair wage. One of the biggest battles they had was obtaining an overtime rate. He said that 12 hours is a pretty hard day and he didn't think they were counting the evening times they would be home with their families helping with home work and doing whatever goes on in their family life. He said he didn't see this profiting anyone but big business. He thought Fort Knox could take care of their workers if they chose to do so. He said he has heard from other businesses if this does go, they are going to try to get exemptions also. Number 192 MR. JERRY MARSHALL, Fort Knox Gold, said he represented the people who signed the petitions and supported SB 169. He said the company did not coerce them into this at all. When they first started up the mill, they worked 12 hour days, five days a week. So they know what it's like and they asked the company to do this for them. He said in order for this to work every employee has to want it and also Fort Knox has to go to the Department of Labor every year and reapply for the certification. SENATOR KELLY asked why they didn't organize under a collective bargaining agreement under the Wage and Hour Act, number 13, work performed by an employee under a flexible work hour plan. MR. MARSHALL replied that if they do it for this pretext, they are breaking the law or on the verge. He said the unions play a very important role in our society and there should always be the right to organize and help each other out. The reason to have unions is when management and workers can't come together. In this case workers and the company want to work together. SENATOR KELLY asked how they dealt with holidays like Christmas in terms of overtime. MR. IRWIN replied that they have 10 set holidays. An employee is paid time and a half for his benefits. If it's his time off, he would get paid holiday pay. SENATOR MACKIE asked what would happen if an employee didn't want to go to this schedule and wanted to stay with the existing schedule. MR. IRWIN said they thought about that a lot and feel their word to their employees is important. They have made it clear if someone wants to stay on their schedule, if it's an eight hour schedule, he will stay on his schedule. He said it's clearly voluntary. If the employees decide they don't like it, the Commissioner of Labor has the right to change it. TAPE 97-18, SIDE A Number 001 MR. IRWIN said they would end up paying their employees more overtime. The benefit to the company they see is safety. Statistics show that it's not the schedule they work, but the satisfaction of the worker in the job. They feel they will break even at $250,000. They don't feel under current law they could afford the $1.5 million extra. SENATOR MACKIE asked if they followed current law and went to two 12-hour shifts, it would cost them $1.5 million extra and by going to the proposed shift it would cost $250,000 more. MR. IRWIN said that was right. SENATOR KELLY asked if this legislation doesn't pass, will they go to 12-hour shifts. MR. IRWIN replied that they didn't see how they could do that economically. He said there is a lot of talk about how they are a big company and have ulterior motives and that's a lie. He has personally done over 150 economic analyses on the property and they did not dig in the wrong place, but they have to have very clear plans to make sure they protect the environment and have a good economic mine. If it would have been economic to do 12-hour shifts, they would have done it long ago. He explained that the mobile mechanics will stay on a 10-hour day shift, anyhow. This schedule would not give them more production, he said in answer to Senator Kelly's question, because they operate 24-hours a day anyway. This is why they have 8-hour shifts; it's tough to divide work schedules up into 10-hour shifts. You can do two 10s, but how can you fill the gap in for the other four hours? Number 79 SENATOR MACKIE said it was stated that you commute an hour each way and work a 12-hour shift, that's 14 hours per day and asked what his experience has been with fatigue and safety. MR. IRWIN replied, for example, when they worked 12-hour shifts and drove further there was over one year without a loss of time accident. Another company, Lone Tree, in Santa Fee went to 12-hour shifts and actually dropped to nil losses and their drive was farther than his. One of his sister companies, AMAX Gold, switched to 12-hour shifts and the year they switched they won the National Sentinel's Safety Award. MR. DARRELL MCSPADDEN, Teamsters 959, opposed SB 169 and any other legislation that affects the working conditions of the people of Alaska in the manner this does. He said there is no need for unions when companies treat you properly. Working 12-hours a day at any job is an exhausting thing to do to anybody. The mine was designed and built with full knowledge of existing labor laws. And although the mine's representatives claim the change is for the benefit of their employees, they know who the ultimate beneficiaries are going to be. MR. MCSPADDEN said that he hasn't talked to one individual, outside of the Fort Knox people, who has said anything in support of this bill. Number 219 SENATOR MACKIE said he has heard conflicting stories about exemptions current in State law. He asked why the 98% of employees who are asking for this at Fort Knox not be allowed to do it. MR. MCSPADDEN responded that these laws were written after long, hard contested battles that cost many lives. It would take a great deal of research into labor union history. SENATOR KELLY asked Mr. Irwin if you're switching from three 8's now to two 12's, don't you need one-third less people? MR. IRWIN replied no because they still have the same number of hours in a month to cover. He added that they have four crews right now. Number 320 MR. ED FLANAGAN, Deputy Commissioner, Department of Labor, said he is here to try and hold back the snowball he sees as rolling down the hill. They are opposed to this bill, although they sympathize with the workers there. He said the schedule they are on would certainly drive folks to distraction and to try to change the law for all workers to address their own situations. He said the Department of Labor did not put them on that schedule; Mr. Irwin did. Alaska is the only state they couldn't do this in and he felt that we should be proud that we have exceptional laws protecting the rights of workers. He said they hear that other states do it all the time, but don't find that a persuasive argument. He explained that Alaska is one of three states that has anything for over 8 hours as far as overtime. Rather than give one exemption a year, maybe they should consider scrapping it. SENATOR KELLY said he grew up in California and whenever he worked over eight hours he got overtime and asked if that was not standard practice now. MR. FLANAGAN said that California has an industrial welfare commission that's appointed by the Governor that has recommended a drop in the over-eight, but the legislature is holding on to it. So California is an over-eight state and so are we. MR. CLARK , Attorney for Fort Knox, interrupted to say that California changed that law two weeks ago. MR. FLANAGAN continued saying that was not an argument for doing away with the law. He said that Mr. Marshall's argument is well taken about an exemption. There are 16; why not 17, etc. Why not just muck out the whole thing, if that's where we want to get, and take a race to the bottom with other jurisdictions by sacrificing worker protections. The workers have a right to organize or not. They exercised their rights by taking jobs with a mine that is the lowest paying large mine in the State. They already pay $3 - $4 less than the going rate for large mines in the State of Alaska. That's a considerable cost savings already. MR. FLANAGAN allowed that they do need to make a profit and they have done a good job of training and hiring locally and are a welcome addition to the State, in that respect. If $18 million would cost them to comply with State law, they have just written down the cost overrun by $25 million. MR. FLANAGAN said he wanted to correct Mr. Irwin's statement that Commissioner Cashen never said they should work four 10s and pay the overtime, too. That is not consistent with current law. Commissioner Cashen said can't you do something using the four 10s exemption under law; and there is a four 10s exemption under law for those employees where it is appropriate. He said the department is ready to support Representative James bill that would put exemption 13, collective bargaining units, on the same footing - just the straight four 10s. There are three power-house agreements that cover a total of 20 employees in the whole State that had straight time for 12 hours. When the Commissioner decided he would support Representative James' bill, he talked to the unions involved about what they would do if this bill passed. They said they would have to renegotiate the wages if it's important for the guys to stay on 12 hours, but the employer won't go with the overtime on that schedule. Fort Knox has made much of the fact that their benefit plans are geared to the base pay. While it is true that a couple of those are statutory, but with the proposed great savings in safety that they are expecting to see, according to Mr. Irwin and Mr. Lange, they could possibly redirect some of the savings towards some kind of supplemental disability. If this bill doesn't pass, he thought they would find a way to achieve what they need to do under current State law. MR. FLANAGAN said one of Commissioner Cashen's biggest concerns with this bill is that it is changing State law for 243 employees. No one doubts that they are behind this and they will take Fort Knox's word that they would accommodate anyone who didn't want this schedule, but he thought other companies would not give that option. He noted that no large industry had tried to get an exemption. However, there are other smaller ones in the wings, like auto mechanics and hairdressers. He predicted they would see more of these bills and the Department of Labor will sound like a broken record, because they will be here opposing them because they don't think it's in the best interests of the workers of the State of Alaska. MR. FLANAGAN also pointed out that it's not true that the exemption would have to be approved every year by the Department of Labor. They do it if they get a complaint or they decide to rescind the plan, but the employees do have a window period every November/December where they could say they don't want to be on the voluntary plan any more. MR. FLANAGAN concluded that if the legislature wants to chip away at the eight-hour law, they would have to agree to disagree and try to convince them that there's nothing to be ashamed of in having a law that's more protective of its workers than other states in the union. SENATOR MACKIE commented that he has mixed feelings about this sole proposal and he has listen closely to testimony on both sides of the issue. He said he didn't think it necessary to criticize people with an opposing view. He said the bill would probably pass out of committee since it is sponsored by the President of the Senate and would come to a vote on the floor. CHAIRMAN LEMAN stated that he appreciated the civility people used in discussing this charged issue. SENATOR KELLY asked under the terms of this law, does the Commissioner have to okay any agreement with Fort Knox. MR. FLANAGAN replied yes. SENATOR KELLY asked if he has to approve it. Could he say no? MR. FLANAGAN responded that he could say no, but if he didn't produce a finding, they could be challenged. SENATOR KELLY commented that he didn't see what good it does to pass a law if the Department of Labor talks like this about it. CHAIRMAN LEMAN adjourned the meeting at 3:43 p.m.