Coalition kills bill aimed at weakening collective bargaining
By UEA Executive Director Mark Mickelsen
The Utah One Coalition – representing 120,000 working men and women throughout Utah, including the 18,000-member Utah Education Association – had as one of its goals this year the defeat of any legislation aimed at weakening employee bargaining rights. They succeeded.
For much of the 2013 legislative session, no anti-collective bargaining bills emerged. But in early March – on the last day the House Government Operations Committee could meet – a bill was placed on the agenda that would have required negotiation meetings between public employers and public employee labor organizations to be open to the public.
Sponsored by Rep. Daniel McCay, HB362 (2nd Sub.): Transparency in Public Employment Negotiation Process not only opened bargaining meetings, but required public notice of the meetings and a mandate that public employers to keep minutes and make audio recordings of the proceedings.
Despite little advance notice, the Utah One Coalition prepared an issue brief on the bill and went to work urging members of the Government Operations Committee to vote it down. The Coalition packed the meeting with firefighters, police, educators, education support personnel and other public employee groups that negotiate contracts.
Several Coalition members spoke against the bill in committee – arguing that the legislation was unnecessary because transparency already exists in the public employee bargaining process. “In Utah school districts, the constituencies of both the school board and the employee association can already provide input regarding negotiations, and vote on a tentative agreement,” said Coalition Chair and UEA Executive Director Mark Mickelsen. “Elected school boards are entrusted to negotiate and their final decisions are made in a public meeting. Elected education association leaders are entrusted to negotiate for their members. Those members vote on whether or not to accept the contract, and have an opportunity to convince their fellow members to vote against a negotiated agreement, if they wish.”
Mickelsen told the Committee that neither employees nor employers are asking for the changes proposed in the legislation.
The bill failed in Committee by a vote of 5-4. In an effort to resurrect the bill, Rep. McCay began contacting his colleagues about supporting a strategy to pull his failed bill from the Rules Committee and place in on the board in the House. Alerted to the end run, Utah One Coalition members went to work contacting Representatives and asking them to resist the effort. They succeeded and Rep. McCay’s bill died.