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
txt
 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.                       

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