Nick Dranias

Public Accountability Requires a Spotlight on Collective Bargaining

Posted on March 14, 2013 | Author: Nick Dranias
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Some legislators in the Arizona House seem strangely determined to block consideration of bills aimed at reforming government unions. Last year, efforts to reform government union collective bargaining stalled because of such opposition. This year, a number of other union reform bills were blocked by one state representative, Bob Robson, despite having been co-sponsored by 11 of his colleagues. HB 2330, which would require transparency in government union collective bargaining, was one of those bills.

The bill simply recognizes that when secrecy in negotiations is combined with laws forcing the government to engage in collective bargaining, government unions are free to deploy maximum leverage in negotiations. In many Arizona cities even elected city council members aren’t allowed to monitor collective bargaining negotiations, even though they are the ones accountable to the public for how the city spends their money. Elected officials and the public simply cannot meaningfully assess the outcome of the negotiations when they do not oversee them and the law keeps them blind, deaf and dumb during the negotiating process.

To protect public accountability and our pocketbooks, the public and elected officials should know precisely what is being demanded by government union officials and offered by government employers in any negotiation over employment terms and conditions. All phases of collective bargaining should be conducted transparently and all documents generated in the process should be deemed public records. After all, government employees, city managers and elected officials work for the public; and the public is entitled to know what their employees are doing on their dime.

There is no good reason to keep collective bargaining negotiations—and HB 2330—behind closed doors.

Learn more:

Arizona State Legislature: HB 2330

Goldwater Institute: Airing Out the Smoke-Filled Rooms

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