Legislature(1993 - 1994)

04/28/1994 03:22 PM L&C

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
 SENATOR KELLY announced  SB 290  (APPROP: PUBLIC SAFETY EMPLOYEES) to    to   
 be up for consideration.                                                      
                                                                               
 NANCY USERA, Commissioner, Department of Administration, said this            
 bill is the result of an arbitration held between the Public Safety           
 Employees Association (PSEA) and the State of Alaska.  It is the              
 award given by Arbiter Litton, the terms of which she is to present           
 to the legislature.                                                           
                                                                               
 One of the things she thinks is particularly important is of the              
 substantial number they see associated with the PSEA award, a fair            
 portion of that is retroactive to 1992.  If they were to delete the           
 retroactive portion, she said the PSEA award would be approximately           
 $7,075.                                                                       
                                                                               
 SENATOR SALO asked her if it was possible to go back to the table             
 to do anything to the award after the arbitration.  COMMISSIONER              
 USERA said if the legislature rejected the terms, the parties would           
 go back to the negotiating table.  Otherwise they could go back               
 only if both parties agreed.                                                  
                                                                               
 SENATOR KELLY asked her if the administration opposed this                    
 legislation.  COMMISSIONER USERA said they thought the terms of the           
 award were very bad for the state and for management.  There are              
 provisions in it that they don't like or agree with.                          
                                                                               
 SENATOR SALO asked why the Public Safety Employees Association                
 prevailed in arbitration.  COMMISSIONER USERA said she couldn't               
 speculate on it.                                                              
                                                                               
 SENATOR SALO asked if they mutually selected the arbiter.                     
 COMMISSIONER USERA said they mutually agreed to selecting an                  
 arbitrator.                                                                   
                                                                               
 SENATOR KELLY asked for someone to present them the terms of the              
 arbitration.                                                                  
                                                                               
 COMMISSIONER USERA explained one of the problems she has with the             
 award is that it goes back to 1992 and the state's economic                   
 scenario is much different now.  Two other provisions are                     
 particularly troublesome to the state, because of their                       
 precedential nature.  One of them is related to the bill they just            
 passed from committee regarding indemnification.  The arbiter                 
 awarded not only indemnification for civil precedent, but also for            
 criminal actions.  That is a very dangerous precedent.                        
                                                                               
 The other difficult provision from a precedential standpoint is               
 this arbiter's award has what is called an "evergreen clause" which           
 awards the monetary terms in every succeeding year.  Obviously, she           
 said, this is not something most unions would want to give away (an           
 automatic COLA).                                                              
                                                                               
 ART CHANCE, Labor Relations, said he was the state's representative           
 in the arbitration, itself, though not in the negotiations.  He               
 reviewed some of the "high points" of the provisions in the award.            
                                                                               
 SENATOR KELLY asked for a copy of the award.                                  
                                                                               
 Number 516                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR LINCOLN asked what would happen if this bill didn't make it           
 through the legislative process.  COMMISSIONER USERA answered that            
 Terry Cramer, Legal Services, said it would mean the terms and                
 conditions would go into effect.  There would just be no money to             
 pay for it.  She pointed out that they had been negotiating for 18            
 months, and, if the negotiations can be protracted and delayed,               
 there is very little incentive to come to agreement - especially if           
 there is supposed to be some give and take on either side.                    
                                                                               
 KEITH PERRIN, President, Public Safety Employees Association,                 
 clarified the intent of the indemnification clause is to apply to             
 negotiated "beyond duty" type action - applying to an individual              
 involved in some kind of action while employed.                               
                                                                               
 Regarding the health insurance which is $470 in the award, he said            
 the current amount is $423 and they hadn't had an increase in                 
 contributions since 1991.  Insurance rates have gone up every year,           
 he noted. If this contract is not funded, their insurance will not            
 last another year.                                                            
                                                                               
 MR. PERRIN disagreed with the Commissioner that they would go back            
 to the table if this contract was not funded.                                 
                                                                               
 SENATOR KELLY asked if there was anybody from the state explaining            
 the state's financial scenario or was it irrelevant.  MR. PERRIN              
 answered yes, that the Commissioner was there.                                
                                                                               
 Number 566                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR SALO said she knows that sometimes the reason contracts are           
 drawn out can be the fault of one or both of the parties.  She                
 asked him how he would characterize their negotiations.  MR. PERRIN           
 said they absolutely were not trying to lengthen the negotiations.            
                                                                               
 SENATOR SALO said it is her experience that the arbitrator almost             
 always makes the contract retroactive to the date of expiration of            
 the last agreement.  MR. PERRIN said that was his experience.  He             
 asked that if there is no responsibility on the state's behalf for            
 the entire contract period, what incentive does it have to                    
 negotiate in a timely fashion.                                                
                                                                               
  TAPE 94-33, SIDE B                                                           
  Number 580                                                                   
                                                                               
 SENATOR LINCOLN asked him what would happen instead of going back             
 to the table if the legislature did not pass SB 290.  MR. PERRIN,             
 noting that he wasn't an attorney, said they think their                      
 arbitration is binding on both parties.  Secondly, they believe the           
 statutes clearly indicated, if you are going to take action to                
 disallow this contract, you must do so within 60 days of the                  
 appropriations bill being introduced, and that 60 days is passed.             
 He thought they would need a court decision to rectify that issue.            
                                                                               
 SENATOR KELLY said he was going to reject the binding arbitrator              
 from Boston.  He thought this was an elitist contract for 424                 
 people and an average of $18,324 is entirely too high.  It does a             
 disservice to the rest of the state employees and certainly does a            
 disservice to the public.  He thought the public would be outraged            
 if they knew the facts behind this case.                                      
                                                                               
 SENATOR LINCOLN reminded him that she asked the Commissioner what             
 would happen if the legislature didn't act on this bill.  She                 
 responded that would mean that it would go into effect, we just               
 wouldn't pay the tab.                                                         
                                                                               
 SENATOR KELLY said he would not pass this bill out of committee in            
 its current form.  He then adjourned the meeting at 4:12 p.m.                 

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