The Senate State Government Committee today passed and sent to the full Senate a taxpayer-protection measure sponsored by Senator Pat Stefano (R-32).
The bill that would add greater transparency and openness to negotiations involving public sector collective bargaining agreements by requiring proposed agreements to be posted online for public review.
Senate Bill 168 would require any proposed collective bargaining agreement to be made available on the public employers’ publicly accessible Internet website within 48 hours.
“Taxpayers have a right to know how their money is spent on contracts that are negotiated behind closed doors,” Stefano said. “Providing greater openness is a core tenet of good government.”
An agreement would have to be posted online two weeks prior and thirty days following the signing of the collective bargaining agreement.
“Public employers across the Commonwealth currently negotiate contracts costing billions of dollars without any public review or oversight,” Stefano said. “Collective bargaining negotiations have a direct impact on state and local government costs. I believe taxpayers have the right to know how their hard-earned money is being spent. Opening this process to the public will ensure that negotiations are done fairly and in the best interest of citizens.”
Under Stefano’s legislation, information posted would include a statement of the terms of the proposed collective bargaining agreement and an estimate of the costs to the public employer associated with the agreement.
Proposed collective bargaining agreements and any documents presented by the public employer or received from the employee organization in the course of collective bargaining would be considered public records and subject to the Right-to-Know Law.
“Taxpayers have a vested interest in the labor negotiations between public employers and their employees and deserve the right to review contract agreements,” Stefano said. “Requiring an online posting of the proposed collective bargaining agreements is a straightforward reform to advance government transparency and ensure that taxpayer money is spent effectively.”
Stefano’s legislation now goes to the full Senate for consideration.