Pennsylvania Senate OKs public employee collective bargaining bills

HARRISBURG — Republicans on Wednesday gave Senate approval to two bills that they said would increase transparency in collective bargaining for public employees, but which Democrats equated to union-busting.

One bill would require the state Independent Fiscal Office to analyze the cost of any collective bargaining agreement proposed for workers under the governor’s jurisdiction. The other would require public employers to post proposed collective bargaining agreements online at least two weeks prior to the signing of the contracts.

Speaking on the floor, Sen. Pat Stefano, R-Fayette and a sponsor of the public-notice bill, called it a matter of transparency.

“The public deserves an opportunity to weigh in on these important decisions, in the same sense that they have to weigh in on the regulations made by departments, legislation made right here in our Legislature or certain grants dispersed by various departments,” he said.

Democrats opposed the measures, which they said would undermine contract negotiations.

“I’d have a heck of a lot more respect for people if you just got up and said, this is what we want to do, we want to bust up the unions,” said Sen. Larry Farnese, D-Philadelphia. “We want to make it more difficult for working men and women to get a living wage in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”

After the bills passed the Senate, House Majority Leader Dave Reed, R-Indiana, said they would be sent to the Labor & Industry Committee for review.

The Wolf administration is negotiating with AFSCME, UFCW and SEIU, which have contracts that expire June 30.
Karen Langley: klangley@post-gazette.com or 717-787-2141 or on Twitter @karen_langley.

http://www.post-gazette.com/news/state/2015/05/07/Pennsylvania-Senate-OKs-public-employee-collective-bargaining-bills/stories/201505060193