Collective bargaining discussion heats up in Senate
Friday, May 17, 2013
The Senate General Government, Consumer and Small Business Protection Committee convened a hearing on a collective bargaining bill, House Bill 2448-A, this week.
HB 2448-A would ultimately add binding arbitration to the expedited bargaining process if parties cannot reach agreement in the 90-day bargaining window. However, prior to parties being subjected to binding arbitration if no agreement is reached after 90 days, the matter will be submitted to the State Conciliation Service for mediation. After mediation, if the parties still cannot reach agreement, the matter is referred to the Employment Relations Board for binding arbitration as provided in ORS 243.742. HB 2448-A passed out of the House on a 33-24 party line vote (Democrats supporting and Republicans opposing).
Randy Bryant from the Gresham-Barlow School District and Brock Logan from Portland Public Schools testified before the committee in opposition to the bill. They argued that the current intermediate bargaining process is used when contracts are not open and the district needs to make adjustments to district operations that are a mandatory subject of bargaining. The 90-day window allows the district to remain flexible when budget resources are reduced and there is a need to make adjustments to district operations.
Mary Rowe, representing the Metro Regional Government, testified in opposition to the bill, stating: “HB 2448 would add an additional step in the process to implement any change, thereby making it more difficult and significantly more expensive for a local government to operate efficiently. To impose an additional step would increase the time and expense of paying an outside arbitrator to make timely adjustments to respond to operational needs. Moreover, HB 2448 places critical business decisions in the hands of a third party that is unfamiliar with the specific business needs and operating environment of the government agency.”
Several unions testified in support of the bill, including the Oregon School Employees Association (OSEA), who talked about misuse of this statute. OSEA cited stories of school districts that wait to make changes to district operations until after the collective bargaining contract has been negotiated and approved.
The committee adjourned without taking action.
Contact OSBA Legislative Services Specialist Lori Sattenspiel for more information.