Legislature(1997 - 1998)

04/14/1997 06:10 PM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
       SB 151  PUBLIC EMPLOYMENT LABOR RELATIONS                               
       COCHAIR SHARP stated  his intent to take  testimony and                 
       hold  SB 151 for redrafting of  amendments, to be taken                 
       up at a later date.   Testimony was heard from all  the                 
       above  attendees.     SB  151  was  HELD   for  further                 
  SENATE BILL NO. 151                                                          
  "An  Act  relating  to  public  employment  labor relations;                 
  relating to the protection of the rights of public employees                 
  under  the  Public  Employment Relations  Act;  establishing                 
  ethical  standards  for  union   representatives  of  public                 
  employees;  and  establishing  disclosure  requirements  for                 
  public employee labor organizations."                                        
  COCHAIR   SHARP   noted    that   the   committee   received                 
  approximately eighty pages of written testimony that were in                 
  members' files.  He  stated the purpose of this  meeting was                 
  to take  testimony over  teleconference and  in Juneau.   He                 
  then  invited  Mr.  Chance  to  provide a  synopsis  of  the                 
  ART  CHANCE,   Consultant  to   House  and   Senate  Finance                 
  Committees, read a ten-page statement and sectional analysis                 
  (copy  on  file).  Following  is  an  excerpt of  the  first                 
  paragraph to summarize the legislation.                                      
       The   proposed  legislation   has   two  purposes   and                 
       discussion will be divided into two  parts.  First, the                 
       existing law is  amended to incorporate the  lessons of                 
       twenty-five  years of  collective bargaining  in Alaska                 
       and to comply with  a line of U.S. Supreme  Court cases                 
       concerning union  dues  issues  in  public  employment.                 
       Second,  extensive  additions are  made  to the  Act to                 
       reflect the  provisions of  the federal  National Labor                 
       Relations Act  as amended.   These provisions  regulate                 
       the organizational  structure of public  employee labor                 
       organizations and  the conduct  of  union officers  and                 
       employees as well  as officers,  elected and  appointed                 
       officials  and  certain  employees and  contractors  of                 
       public  employers.  The  legislation covers only public                 
       employee  unions  and  public employers  and  does  not                 
       regulate the conduct of private  sector labor unions or                 
       councils and federations that do not directly engage in                 
       collective  bargaining  between public  employee unions                 
       and public employers.                                                   
  SENATOR ADAMS stated the problems he  saw with the bill.  He                 
  questioned if  the committee  was willing to  spend over  $1                 
  million in fiscal notes for the legislation.  He opposed the                 
  some  of  the   language  in  Section  1,   stating  it  was                 
  inappropriate to cite  instances of disregard for  rights of                 
  employees and failures to observe high standards.  His first                 
  preference was to leave  the bill in committee.   He opposed                 
  Section 5 that decertified the current unions and would cost                 
  an  excess  of $345  thousand.   He  suggested  deleting the                 
  federal labor management report and disclosure act, noting a                 
  fiscal note could go as high as $800 thousand.  He suggested                 
  deleting the requirements added  for arbitration awards  and                 
  proposed establishing and maintaining a separate  system for                 
  school employees.  His opinion was that  the legislation was                 
  expensive,  not   needed,  hurt  morale   and  upset   state                 
  COCHAIR SHARP called for  statewide teleconference testimony                 
  next, announcing  individuals would  have a two-minute  time                 
  Delta Junction:                                                              
  JACKIE NELSON-LIZARDI spoke in opposition  to the bill.   It                 
  represented total control and no respect.   It was biased on                 
  the side of management and punitive in nature.  She believed                 
  it was an attack on the rights of public employees.                          
  NANCY MACVIE testified in opposition.  There were provisions                 
  in  the  bill that  were  undemocratic.    She  had  several                 
  questions  for  the  committee,  the  primary one  was  what                 
  prompted a revision  of the Public Employees  Retirement Act                 
  (PERA).  PERA was  working and she questioned why  the rules                 
  were  being  changed.   Ms.  Macvie's written  testimony was                 
  submitted and is on file.                                                    
  BILL PARKER, Soldotna, opposed the bill.  He  challenged the                 
  findings in Section  1 regarding ethical conduct as  well as                 
  the concept of bargaining by statutes.                                       
  DON  OBERG, Staff, NEA  Alaska, submitted  written testimony                 
  (copy  on  file).    He  was  opposed  to  the  legislation,                 
  perceiving it as an attempt to  fix a problem which may  not                 
  exist.  He  believed it would do  more harm than good.   Two                 
  concerns he had were  related to the cost of  bargaining and                 
  the cost of enforcement of negotiated agreements.                            
  KATHLEEN WIGHT-MURPHY urged a no vote  on SB 151.  It was  a                 
  regressive  bill.  It  would take  bargaining away  from the                 
  local  level,  politicize  education,  restrict topics  that                 
  could  be  bargained and  erode  grievance procedures.   She                 
  questioned  the constitutionality  of  publishing names  and                 
  addresses under  disclosure.   The bill  would weaken  local                 
  control,  diminish the responsibility  of school  boards and                 
  shift  power to  the legislature  and  local assembly.   She                 
  stated it was expensive and not needed.                                      
  RICK ROHLMAN, Sitka Education Association, opposed the bill.                 
  He questioned  how he could protect his family when unneeded                 
  financial disclosure was required.  He urged a no vote.                      
  MAYOR JIM SAMPSON,  Fairbanks North Star Borough,  cited his                 
  background and testified in opposition to  SB 151.  PERA was                 
  working well  as it was.   SB 151 would  neither enhance nor                 
  benefit  labor   management  relations.     It   would  hurt                 
  municipalities as well  as those under  PERA.  He  cautioned                 
  the legislature  against following the  recommendations made                 
  by Mr. Chance.                                                               
  CRAIG   PEARSON,   Public   Safety  Education   Association,                 
  testified  next.   He  opposed SB  151  and stated  PERA had                 
  effectively worked for  25 years.  He  believed the findings                 
  about unethical behavior was a slap in  the face.  He stated                 
  the bill was anti-worker, costly, unnecessary and added more                 
  bureaucracy to state  government.  He  urged that it not  be                 
  passed from committee.                                                       
  BILL BJORK,  Fairbanks Education  Association, testified  in                 
  opposition.   The bill  was an  attempt to  fix what  wasn't                 
  broken,  that  being  PERA.   He  spoke  of  the agency  fee                 
  procedure  within  his   organization.    He   disputed  the                 
  insinuation in the  bill that  people weren't being  treated                 
  RICHARD SEWARD,  State Director, AFL-CIO, spoke  against the                 
  bill.    It was  costly with  a  $1 million  price tag.   It                 
  radically  changed  the  relationship  between  unions   and                 
  management.  He believed PERA changes should be done through                 
  a long and  deliberative process.   He felt  the bill  would                 
  cost more than the fiscal note says.                                         
  End SFC-97 #108, Side 2, Begin SFC-97 #109, Side 1                           
  CHERYL VOGEL urged a no vote on  SB 151.  It would take away                 
  rights and create  concern for  equity and  fairness in  the                 
  work force.  She spoke of the lengthy time factor of vesting                 
  for seasonal employees.  She opposed financial disclosure of                 
  public employees.                                                            
  The following individuals testified in person in Juneau.                     
  ED  FLANAGAN,  Deputy  Commissioner,  Department  of  Labor,                 
  testified in opposition to the bill for a number of reasons.                 
  It would run counter to the  goals of the administration and                 
  the legislature to provide more efficient and cost-effective                 
  government  by creating  a  cumbersome  and unnecessary  new                 
  bureaucracy to  micro-manage the internal  affairs of public                 
  sector labor organizations.  The bill                                        
  added fifty pages to the twenty page PERA law which has been                 
  adequate for  twenty-five years.    The bill  was largely  a                 
  wholesale adoption of  provisions of two federal  labor laws                 
  from 1947 and 1959.  Their  adoption would increase the size                 
  of  government  and  rather  than  improving  public  sector                 
  relations, it  would severely  disrupt them.   MR.  FLANAGAN                 
  mentioned the "incongruous mimicry of                                        
  federal law language"  of the findings in Section 1, stating                 
  they were unsubstantiated.   He stated that  it would render                 
  most of the  current bargaining  units illegal and  detailed                 
  particular  problems  with  barring  the  presence  of peace                 
  officers  and  non-peace  officers in  the  same  unit.   He                 
  elaborated on other problematic provisions in Sections 7, 19                 
  and  37.   Section  37 would  create  a new  bureaucracy and                 
  affect over 2,800 officers, their  wives, dependents and co-                 
  habitants  that would be  under the  reporting requirements.                 
  MR. FLANAGAN elaborated  on the seven articles that would be                 
  included under Section 37 and stated that the workload would                 
  be  enormous.  He  indicated he  would  provide  his written                 
  statement for the record.                                                    
  JOHN CYR, President, NEA Alaska, stated his opposition to SB
  151.  He detailed the  major problems he saw with  the bill.                 
  Section 2 allowed local governments to  decide what could be                 
  subject  to  bargaining  via  ordinance.    In  REAA's,  the                 
  legislature would have to look at every negotiated contract.                 
  Section 5 regarding grievance  procedures allowed individual                 
  employees to bypass the union which could result in a myriad                 
  of  claims that  may or  may not  be grievances.   Section 6                 
  allowed employers to harass unions by claiming that a  union                 
  was no longer representative  of the employees in the  unit.                 
  There was mention of  AS 23.40.110 that was clearly  at odds                 
  with Supreme Court decisions regarding collective bargaining                 
  activity.  Under the bill,  a fee payer would become  a free                 
  rider  if they  only could  be  charged for  activities that                 
  happen  at   the  bargaining   table.     Most  costs   were                 
  administrative and  the laws were  clear about what  was and                 
  was not chargeable.   MR. CYR brought up page  15, regarding                 
  approval  of  agreements  by  the  borough assembly  or  the                 
  legislature.  He believed  it would reduce the authority  of                 
  school boards  in the  bargaining process.   He  pointed out                 
  page  17 that  excluded half-time employees  from bargaining                 
  units, noting that NEA represented many.  He  questioned why                 
  that group would not have the right to be represented.  Page                 
  22 related to protection of  the right to sue and  stated it                 
  was a gratuitous insult.   Regarding reporting requirements,                 
  MR. CYR  estimated  there would  be about  1,500 people  who                 
  voluntarily served  as shop stewards who would  have to file                 
  financial disclosure.   He  questioned  why the  legislature                 
  would be interested in how much those people made and how it                 
  was spent, stating that it didn't made sense.  The bill also                 
  injured  school  board  members.    MR. CYR  summarized  his                 
  testimony by reading Section 1(c), which he believed was the                 
  entire premise  for  the  bill.   He  strongly  opposed  the                 
  statement  and  took  offense,  stating  that it  should  be                 
  VERNON MARSHALL,  Executive Director, NEA  Alaska, explained                 
  what the NEA had done for the last several years with regard                 
  to administration and accounting for agency fees relative to                 
  individuals  who choose not to become part of the union.  He                 
  provided  a  copy  of  their  Hudson Notice  which  provided                 
  detailed  information to objectors to  the union.  It listed                 
  everything from  administrative expense to  political costs.                 
  He elaborated on the  point that many procedures of  NEA had                 
  been upheld by the courts.  He stated that they were already                 
  under a tremendous degree of reporting requirements.                         
  WILLIE  ANDERSON,  Lobbyist, NEA  Alaska, continued  with an                 
  explanation of  the Hudson  Notice and  contents of  packets                 
  which  were  sent   by  certified  mail  to   everyone  they                 
  MIKE MCMULLEN, Manager, Division of Personnel, Department of                 
  Administration;  spoke  briefly   about  the  fiscal   note.                 
  Section 5 contained a number of restrictions on who could be                 
  in the same bargaining unit, which would create an estimated                 
  nine additional units.  It would require six months of staff                 
  time per  unit spread  over two  years in  additional to  an                 
  ongoing professional staff for each unit.                                    
  BRUCE LUDWIG, Business  Manager, APEA, AFT.   He stated that                 
  this was the worst bill and fastest moving bill he had seen.                 
  He mentioned that the $1 million fiscal note related only to                 
  state government,  noting that it did not include the fiscal                 
  impact to municipalities.   He further explained  and stated                 
  that  the  costs  could be  as  high as  $3-4  million.   He                 
  believed the legislation was a shotgun approach that created                 
  more problems  than it  fixed and  that it  went far  beyond                 
  federal law.  MR. LUDWIG pointed out that many officers were                 
  already covered by  the ethics act and  that the legislation                 
  would  create two levels of standards.                                       
  MARY GRAHAM, State Employee, Juneau,  testified that she was                 
  a  shop  steward  and  had  concerns  about  the  disclosure                 
  requirements.  She agreed with  most previous statements and                 
  expressed confusion  as to why  the bill moved  forward when                 
  there had been  no testimony in favor of  it.  She disagreed                 
  with  a comment made by  Mr. Chance that part-time employees                 
  were tangential  to state business.   She believed  PERA had                 
  worked well and didn't need to be fixed.                                     
  LINDA  GOHL,  ASEA  Shop Steward,  Juneau,  stated  that the                 
  legislation  would  be very  expensive and  complicate labor                 
  relations.   She felt  the bill  was punitive.   Giving  new                 
  employees  the  option of  being  out  of a  union  would be                 
  divisive.    She  believed the  fiscal  note  was ridiculous                 
  relative to the  state budget constraints.  The only benefit                 
  would be to new staff and attorneys.                                         
  HAL CLEEK, ASEA  Shop Steward, testified  that the bill  was                 
  flawed and cumbersome.                                                       
  End SFC-97 #108, Side 2                                                      
  Begin SFC-97 #109, Side 1                                                    
  MR. CLEEK continued with discussion  of grievance filing and                 
  appeals process.   He observed that  the way to address  and                 
  solve money problems was at the bottom, not at the top.                      
  ROBERT WELTON, JR., State  Employee, testified in opposition                 
  to SB 151.  He stated it was a union-bashing bill that would                 
  also affect non-state  workers.  The  way to get support  of                 
  union workers was not to undercut their union but to support                 
  them on work place  issues such as day care  and health care                 
  for spouses.   He believed the bill  was a violation  of the                 
  balance  of  power  between  the  legislative  and executive                 
  branches and was inappropriate.  He  stated there would be a                 
  return to  a "cattle  call approach"  to bargaining,  citing                 
  pre-PERA history of  bargaining with  the legislature.   The                 
  bill  was  needlessly  draconian, adversarial  and  violated                 
  employer-employee  contracts.  He  summarized that  the bill                 
  was a bad idea.                                                              
  RICHARD ISETT, State Employee, Juneau, opposed the bill.  It                 
  was a  mean-spirited, anti-collective  bargaining bill  that                 
  reduced  rights and did  not encourage ethical  conduct.  He                 
  believed SB 151  created an under-class comprised  of public                 
  employees and should be rejected.                                            
  KRISTENA  EWING,  President  Local   ASEA  Chapter,  Juneau,                 
  testified that  SB 151 was a  punitive and unfair  bill.  It                 
  did not  provide  equity to  workers  and was  a  regressive                 
  process for representation.  She opposed the bill.                           
  DON ETHERIDGE,  District  Council of  Laborers,  Local  #71,                 
  testified in  opposition.  It did nothing  good for members,                 
  required additional paperwork  for staff and reporting.   He                 
  encouraged the committee  to look seriously at  the bill and                 
  then throw it away.                                                          
  AL TRAGIS, ASEA Shop Steward, Juneau,  opposed the bill.  He                 
  noted  the  grievance process  didn't  exist in  the private                 
  sector.  The bill  was atrocious compared to what was on the                 
  BEVERLY HOLT, ASEA Shop Steward,  Juneau, testified that the                 
  system  in  place  was good.    SB  151  would make  a  more                 
  litigious  system.   She  encouraged  an  up-front  dialogue                 
  before the bill was put in place.                                            
  COCHAIR  SHARP  stated   that  SB  151  would  be  HELD  for                 
  redrafting of amendments.                                                    
  SENATOR DONLEY  commented that he was not  supportive of the                 
  legislation, even though it was  sponsored by the committee.                 

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