Legislature(1993 - 1994)

03/04/1993 03:00 PM House L&C

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
  HB 158:  APPROP: CONTRACT SETTLEMENT COSTS                                   
  Number 484                                                                   
  ADMINISTRATION, presented the monetary terms of the labor                    
  contract recently negotiated and gave the following                          
  description of the types of employees covered under this                     
  appropriation:  classified, nonsupervisory, and blue and                     
  gray collar employees of the executive branch.                               
  Classifications include cooks, custodians, equipment                         
  operators and skilled crafts.  The employees work primarily                  
  for the Departments of Transportation & Public Facilities,                   
  Administration, Corrections, and Health and Social Services.                 
  There are approximately 1,634 employees represented by the                   
  Public Employees Local 71.                                                   
  COMMISSIONER USERA went into some detail regarding                           
  management's goals in coming to this agreement and the                       
  contract agreement itself.  (These are on file in the                        
  committee room.)                                                             
  Number 585                                                                   
  COMMISSIONER USERA noted that the agreement includes a                       
  provision to refund the costs to employees who were required                 
  to obtain a commercial driver's license as a condition of                    
  employment.  She noted renewals will be at the expense of                    
  the employee.                                                                
  Number 599                                                                   
  CHAIRMAN HUDSON inquired if that new requirement was the                     
  result of the federal law change.                                            
  Number 604                                                                   
  DON VELESCO, MANAGER, PUBLIC EMPLOYEES LOCAL 71, stated that                 
  the federal government does require persons driving certain                  
  vehicles to have a commercial license.  Mr. Velesco further                  
  stated that the federal government controls the purse                        
  strings on some of the projects, so the state then enacted a                 
  law to require this.                                                         
  Number 611                                                                   
  REP. PORTER asked if the license was portable.                               
  COMMISSIONER USERA responded that it was.                                    
  COMMISSIONER USERA testified that the other large item in                    
  the agreement was the health insurance escalator which                       
  raises the state's contribution to $500.00 a month.                          
  Number 638                                                                   
  REP. GREEN asked why the funding was coming from several                     
  different sources.                                                           
  TAPE 93-18, SIDE B                                                           
  Number 001                                                                   
  OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR, responded that the funding                           
  composition for the salary increase was the same as the                      
  funding composition to pay the salaries normally.                            
  Number 060                                                                   
  REP. MULDER expressed concern over there being no savings in                 
  this contract.                                                               
  Number 069                                                                   
  COMMISSIONER USERA noted that there were no wage escalator                   
  associated with this contract; reduction of a holiday saves                  
  money; and a real monetary value to change the cola date                     
  from January 1 to July 1 also adds up to a savings for the                   
  Number 109                                                                   
  COMMISSIONER USERA stated that it is her belief that health                  
  care in this nation is going to change so dramatically that                  
  in the long-run the state will realize a cost savings.                       
  Number 160                                                                   
  REP. GREEN asked what happens if health care costs skyrocket                 
  instead of come down.                                                        
  COMMISSIONER USERA responded that in two years the contract                  
  will be up.                                                                  
  Number 180                                                                   
  REP. GREEN expressed concern that this sets precedent.                       
  Number 189                                                                   
  COMMISSIONER USERA said she believes that the precedent set                  
  is a positive and realistic one.                                             
  Discussion ensued concerning strategy and details regarding                  
  the contract settlement.                                                     
  Number 279                                                                   
  REP. HUDSON asked how the amount of health insurance the                     
  state has agreed to provide compares to other public                         
  employers or other unions the state has bargained with.                      
  COMMISSIONER USERA stated that the only one she knew of that                 
  was higher was the Anchorage employees.  She further stated                  
  that the committee should remember that the Local 71                         
  "bought" this health coverage by giving up other priorities.                 
  Number 317                                                                   
  REP. MULDER asked where Commissioner Usera felt the state                    
  stood in comparison to other employers as far as benefits.                   
  COMMISSIONER USERA said she felt at this time the state was                  
  providing a great benefit package, but for the record she                    
  wanted to note that this package has been put together in                    
  increments over the years.  Furthermore, the commissioner                    
  wanted to note that the state was in a position in the late                  
  1970's where it was scrambling to find and retain a skilled                  
  workforce given the high wages paid on the slope.                            
  Number 349                                                                   
  REP. MULDER asked if the state had looked into going out to                  
  bid for an insurance carrier.                                                
  Number 353                                                                   
  COMMISSIONER USERA answered that the state was currently                     
  looking at a variety of options.                                             
  Number 357                                                                   
  REP. SITTON congratulated the unions and the administration                  
  on the process and end result of the negotiated settlement                   
  they came to.                                                                
  Number 371                                                                   
  CHAIRMAN HUDSON asked what kinds of considerations could be                  
  looked at for noncovered employees; i.e., legislative staff.                 
  Number 372                                                                   
  COMMISSIONER USERA responded that she agreed wholeheartedly                  
  that this was an area of importance to both the noncovered                   
  employee and management.                                                     
  CHAIRMAN HUDSON noted that the administration had proposed                   
  two amendments to the bill, and a third one would be                         
  presented by the university.                                                 
  Number 439                                                                   
  MR. VELESCO testified that he disagreed with the                             
  commissioner on characterizing the amount of health                          
  insurance payments as being one of the finest.  Mr. Velesco                  
  noted that the union he represents has different needs based                 
  on the kind of work done.                                                    
  Number 502                                                                   
  REP. PORTER asked if Local 71 ratified this agreement.                       
  MR. VELESCO replied yes.                                                     
  Number 507                                                                   
  MS. FRASCA offered two amendments affecting Sections 3 and 4                 
  of the bill.  Basically, these amendments were revised                       
  estimates of the number of employees affected by this                        
  Number 524                                                                   
  ALASKA, testified that the amendments before the committee                   
  represented the obligation the university had to the members                 
  of the Alaska Community College Federation of Teachers.                      
  Number 567                                                                   
  REP. PORTER asked if the university system had binding                       
  Number 568                                                                   
  MR. ROGERS answered that they do have binding arbitration to                 
  deal with any disputes under the collective agreement, but                   
  they would not proceed to binding arbitration except by                      
  mutual consent if they were to fail to reach agreement.                      
  Number 623                                                                   
  REP. SITTON moved amendments 1, 2, 3 and 4, with fiscal                      
  notes and asked unanimous consent.  There were no                            
  objections; it was so ordered.                                               
  Number 638                                                                   
  REP. PORTER moved for passage of CSHB 158(L&C)am with                        
  individual recommendations and zero fiscal notes.  There                     
  were no objections; it was so ordered.                                       
  CHAIRMAN HUDSON adjourned the meeting at 4:40 p.m.                           

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