Reworking Public Employee Labor Laws
A Quick Look At State Issue Two
By State Rep. Ron Amstutz
We have been hearing emotional arguments against Issue Two that seek to manipulate our opinion based on the fact that we value and appreciate our teachers and our police and fire officers. Those arguments too often twist facts to give us wrong impressions.
While there are many cases where public workers have been very reasonable with their communities, there are also many where they have not been, especially in the larger urban areas.
This legislation will be beneficial to all our communities.
Here are eight main provisions that explain the bulk of what is actually in the bill.
The first four are changes in how differences are resolved during collective bargaining:
1. Collective bargaining will be more transparent. The process will require last, best offers from both sides be made public when an agreement cannot be reached. Current law prevents the public from knowing the details of these offers and makes revealing them grounds for an unfair labor practice. This change will make it more difficult to be unreasonable on either side of the bargaining table.
2. Strikes by public employees are prohibited.
3. Grievances are limited to interpreting provisions of the collective bargaining agreement.
4. Elected officials are made more accountable. Where collective bargaining agreements cannot be reached, a public process eventually requires a public vote by the elected officials that approve the budget to decide between the two final offers. If the chief financial officer determines that the contract cannot be paid for, the last two offers go to the voters in the next election.
The next four items set limitations on what can be agreed to in a collective bargaining contract.
5. Compensation and retention will be based more on performance and less on longevity or tenure. Automatic step increases, which are pay increases, will be replaced by performance evaluations across state and local government. However, currently tenured teachers retain their tenure status under this legislation.
6. Employees are required to pay their share of their retirement benefit, which is usually 10 percent of their pay, though it is higher for safety forces that have a shorter career path to their retirement benefit. Employers would not be able to pay this part in future contracts.
7. Employees are required to pay at least 15 percent of premium cost for their health insurance benefit.
8. The bill prohibits future agreements from requiring non-union members to pay union dues.
These are reasonable provisions and I will be voting "yes" vote on Issue Two.