Legislature(1997 - 1998)
04/14/1997 06:10 PM FIN
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
MINUTES SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE April 14, 1997 6:10 P.M. TAPES SFC-97, # 108, Sides 1 & 2 (000-590, 590-000) SFC-97, # 109, Side 1 (000-304) CALL TO ORDER Senator Bert Sharp, Cochair, Senate Finance Committee, reconvened the meeting at approximately 6:10 P.M. PRESENT In addition to COCHAIR SHARP, SENATORS PHILLIPS, DONLEY, TORGERSON, PARNELL and ADAMS were present when the meeting was reconvened. COCHAIR PEARCE was excused and did not attend the meeting. Also Attending: ART CHANCE, Consultant to House and Senate Finance Committees; ED FLANAGAN, Deputy Commissioner, Department of Labor; JOHN CYR, President, NEA Alaska; VERNON MARSHALL, Executive Director, NEA Alaska; WILLIE ANDERSON, Lobbyist, NEA Alaska; MIKE MCMULLEN, Manager, Division of Personnel, Department of Administration; BRUCE LUDWIG, Business Manager, APEA, AFT; MARY GRAHAM, State Employee, Juneau; LINDA GOHL, ASEA Shop Steward, Juneau; HAL CLEEK, ASEA Shop Steward; ROBERT WELTON, JR., State Employee; RICHARD ISETT, State Employee, Juneau; KRISTENA EWING, President Local ASEA Chapter, Juneau; DON ETHERIDGE, District Council of Laborers, Local #71; AL TRAGIS, ASEA Shop Steward, Juneau; BEVERLY HOLT, ASEA Shop Steward, Juneau; and aides to committee members. Also Attending Via Teleconference: Delta Junction: JACKIE NELSON-LIZARDI; Kenai: NANCY MACVIE; BILL PARKER, Soldotna; DON OBERG, Staff, NEA Alaska; Mat-Su: KATHLEEN WIGHT-MURPHY; CHERYL VOGEL; Sitka: RICK ROHLMAN, Sitka Education Association; Fairbanks: MAYOR JIM SAMPSON, Fairbanks North Star Borough; CRAIG PEARSON, Public Safety Education Association; BILL BJORK, Fairbanks Education Association; RICHARD SEWARD, State Director, AFL-CIO. SUMMARY INFORMATION 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 consideration. 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 legislation. 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 employees. COCHAIR SHARP called for statewide teleconference testimony next, announcing individuals would have a two-minute time limit. 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. Kenai: 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. Mat-Su: 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. Sitka: 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. Fairbanks: 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 fairly. 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 deleted. 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 represent. 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 books. 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. COCHAIR SHARP announced the upcoming committee agenda. ADJOURNMENT The meeting was adjourned at approximately 8:05 P.M.