Legislature(1993 - 1994)

03/01/1994 01:45 PM Senate L&C

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
  CHAIRMAN KELLY called the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee                
 meeting to order at 1:45 p.m. and announced  SB 289  (APPROP: COST OF    OF   
 CERTAIN LABOR AGREEMENTS) to be up for consideration.                         
 COMMISSIONER NANCY USERA, Department of Administration, said there            
 is one correction to the Funding Information section which should             
 say General Fund $92,000 and Other Funds, which are Marine Highway            
 Funds, should be $276,630.                                                    
 She said there was a packet for each of them that contained                   
 summaries of the two agreements.                                              
 In the Alaska Vocational Technical Center Teachers (AVTEC)                    
 agreement, she said, they are changing to a new teacher based                 
 salary schedule and are eliminating the automatic 3% salary                   
 increases.  Included in some of the changes was a management rights           
 clause which gives much more latitude to management in terms of               
 determining key things like overtime, work rules, and hours.                  
 Layoff procedures were clarified and sabbaticals for teachers were            
 only at the employer's discretion and only after 7 years of                   
 In terms of their goal to provide greater flexibility and more                
 productivity and accountability, there was a conversion.  The                 
 annual leave provision was eliminated and replaced with 5 personal            
 leave days instead.                                                           
 The dispute resolution procedure was clarified.  This contract also           
 delineates that additional education credits have to be job                   
 On health insurance they were able to get all of the units to make            
 a choice either on the employer provided plan which will be                   
 provided or they could convert to a trust of a comparable amount of           
 money and the union can provide its own insurance to its members.             
 SENATOR SALO asked if this was an entirely contribution defined               
 plan.  COMMISSIONER USERA answered that it was before.  SENATOR               
 SALO asked if the employee has any protection from the plan                   
 becoming absolutely watered down?  COMMISSIONER USERA said no and             
 explained that each unit was given their choice as she mentioned.             
 She said she believes that there is no benefit more important to an           
 employee than their health benefits.  Her interest is in trying to            
 provide the best, most meaningful benefits within the funds                   
 available to do that.  She recognizes that benefits of a laborer              
 would be different from those of a worker behind a desk.                      
 SENATOR RIEGER asked if it was the state's policy to target a cost            
 to the employer for his plan?  COMMISSIONER USERA answered no and             
 said the state's contribution was currently at $423.50.  One change           
 now is that everyone has to pay something to go to the doctor which           
 has made a big difference in cost containment.                                
 SENATOR RIEGER asked if it was policy to not increase the $423.50?            
 COMMISSIONER USERA said she couldn't imagine a plan that would pay            
 more than that.  She said there will be more and more effort                  
 towards cost containment because of national concern with health              
 As for the Licensed Alaska Marine Highway Engine Room Employees               
 (MEBA) agreement, she said, $38,800, an amalgamation of small                 
 things, is a supplemental associated with the current fiscal year.            
 They have also eliminated management's obligation to negotiate                
 permissive subjects of bargaining.                                            
 MEBA has three shore-side port engineers that are represented by              
 MEBA who are actually shore-side personnel and there were a number            
 of changes to their contract which better represents their hybrid             
 situation.  For instance they reduced paid holidays from 12 to 11,            
 they eliminated penalty pay for early call back from vacation, and            
 eliminated overtime except for preapproved hours only.                        
 They firmed up the language on the drug testing policy.                       
 Maintenance and care went from $40 to $45 per day.  Personal leave            
 is tied to a reopener of wages in the fall of 1994.                           
 The theme for these labor contracts has been to try to contain the            
 costs of each of these bargaining units, but to allow as much                 
 flexibility as possible in trying to rearrange the wages and                  
 benefits to increase productivity for the employers and still                 
 provide meaningful benefits for the employee.  Rather than lock in            
 a cost of living increase, they tied a reopener this year on wages            
 to the leave issue so if there would be an increase in wage there             
 would be a decrease in the leave associated with that.  For health            
 insurance, they were able to get them onto the employer plan with             
 a reopener in the fall of 1994.  The 2.9% cost of living increase             
 goes into effect the first of September.                                      
 COMMISSIONER USERA said she believed these agreements very                    
 effectively represent a cost containment, increases in                        
 productivity, and changes in some areas or incremental reductions.            
 Number 309                                                                    
 SENATOR SHARP asked what kind of work week the MEBA people were on?           
 MILA DOYLE, Labor Relations Analyst, said it depends on which                 
 system they are assigned.  Southeast employers work 84 hours pay              
 periods, week on, week off.  The southwest system employees work              
 120 and 186 hours - essentially every day on and a comparable                 
 amount of time off.                                                           
 SENATOR SHARP asked how many hours annually they worked.  MS. DOYLE           
 answered she couldn't give him an exact figure on that.  SENATOR              
 SHARP said he would like to see what the average hours worked would           
 be for a fifteen year employee.                                               
 SENATOR LINCOLN asked if she could explain the discipline for drug            
 testing.  COMMISSIONER USERA explained that a lot of the                      
 controversy lies in not having the language clear.                            
 SENATOR SHARP moved to adopt CSSB 289(L&C).  There were no                    
 objections and it was so ordered.                                             
 SENATOR KELLY moved to pass CSSB 289(L&C) from Committee.  There              
 were no objections and it was so ordered.                                     

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