Senator Aument Listen
Senator Martin Listen
HARRISBURG — The Senate State Government Committee approved two bills today that would improve transparency of the process of negotiating the salaries and benefits of government and school employees.
Senate Bill 503, sponsored by Senator Ryan Aument (R-36), would remove the exemption of collective bargaining from the Sunshine Act. Senate Bill 504, sponsored by Senator Scott Martin (R-13), would add collective bargaining to the classification of information that is available to the public under the state’s Right To Know Law.
“Legislators have a responsibility to ensure taxpayers have access to information that allows them to have an open conversation with policymakers throughout the collective bargaining process,” Aument said. “Secrecy breeds distrust and creates a cloud of doubt regarding how taxpayer dollars are being allocated. Opening this information up to the public is the best way to ensure taxpayer dollars are being spent wisely and appropriately.”
Collective bargaining negotiations for public employee salaries and benefits are currently exempt from government transparency laws. Twelve states already require access to collective bargaining of public-sector employees. The Senate approved similar legislation during the 2015-16 Legislative Session.
“In my experience in local government, the process works best when the public is involved and knows what taxpayer resources are being offered by their elected officials and demanded by employee bargaining units,” Martin said. “Contract negotiations can have a significant impact on taxpayers, not only in the amount of money deducted from their paychecks, but also in the form of strikes and other disruptions in the lives of students, parents, employees and citizens who rely on government services. Shining a light on that process will only improve the final product.”
Both bills were sent to the full Senate for consideration.
CONTACT: Stephanie Buchanan (717) 787-4420 (Senator Aument)
Terry Trego (717) 787-6535 (Senator Martin)