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Published on Friday, May 29, 2015

New bill would open collective bargaining sessions

On Tuesday, May 26, the Senate Ways & Means Committee heard a new bill, SB 6126, that makes a number of changes to the state’s collective bargaining process and requires local government collective bargaining sessions to be conducted in open meetings. The bill also specifies that a local jurisdiction cannot grant binding interest arbitration to a labor group that isn’t specifically authorized in RCW 41.56, which includes only police, fire, and transit. The bill passed out of committee on a party line vote and now awaits further action in the second special session. Additionally, the Senate Republicans released a revised budget proposal on Thursday, May 28, that ties Legislative approval and funding of the state employee collective bargaining agreements that were negotiated by the Governor to passage of SB 6126.

AWC has concerns about the bill’s provisions that require local collective bargaining negotiations to be conducted in open public meetings. AWC’s Legislative Steering Committee recently considered the issue and decided that until we had more opportunity to research and gather information about the potential impacts of opening negotiations, it was appropriate for AWC to express concerns about changing the current system.

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