Provides that any records indicating the proposed terms of a collective bargaining agreement be made available to the public immediately when such records are sent to members of a public employee union for their approval or rejection; further provides that copies of all proposed school district collective bargaining agreements, employment contracts or amendments to such contracts be placed on the school district website, if such website exists, and within the local public libraries and offices of such school districts at least one week prior to approval or rejection of such proposed public employee union or school district proposed collective bargaining agreements or action taken to approve other employment contracts or amendments thereto.
Ayes (60): Adams, Addabbo, Alesi, Aubertine, Bonacic, Breslin, DeFrancisco, Diaz, Dilan, Duane, Espada, Farley, Flanagan, Foley, Fuschillo, Golden, Griffo, Hannon, Hassell-Thomps, Huntley, Johnson C, Johnson O, Klein, Krueger, Kruger, Lanza, Larkin, LaValle, Leibell, Libous, Little, Marcellino, Maziarz, McDonald, Montgomery, Nozzolio, Onorato, Oppenheimer, Padavan, Parker, Peralta, Perkins, Ranzenhofer, Robach, Saland, Sampson, Savino, Schneiderman, Serrano, Seward, Smith, Squadron, Stachowski, Stavisky, Stewart-Cousins, Thompson, Valesky, Volker, Winner, Young
Nays (1): Skelos
Excused (1): Morahan
BILL NUMBER: S7350A
TITLE OF BILL : An act to amend the public officers law, in relation to certain collective bargaining agreements
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL : Amend the Public Officers Law to provide that any record indicating the proposed terms of a collective bargaining agreement be made available to the public.
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS : Paragraph (c) of subdivision 2 of section 87 of the public Officers Law, as added by Chapter 933 of the Laws of 1997, is amended to read as follows:
(c) if disclosed would impair present or imminent contract awards or collective bargaining negotiations, provided however, (i) that records indicating the proposed terms of a collective bargaining agreement together with facts describing the economic and any new costs attributable to such agreement, contract, or amendment shall be made available to the public immediately following approval of such proposed terms by a public employee union, and at least two weeks prior to the approval or rejection of such proposed terms by the public employer, (ii) that copies of all proposed public employee, school district collective bargaining agreements, employment contracts, or amendments to such contracts together with facts describing the economic and any new costs attributable to such agreement, contract, or amendment be placed on the school district website, if such website exists, and within the local public libraries and offices of such districts at least two weeks prior to approval or rejection of such proposed public employee union or school district proposed public employee union or school district proposed collective bargaining agreements or action taken to approve other employment contracts or amendments.
JUSTIFICATION : The public's right to know and hold elected officials accountable is hallmark of American democracy. It has long been a titan enshrined in state law and practice. The New York State Legislature enacted the public Officers Law giving its citizens clearly defined Freedom of Information rights, which have been expanded over the last decade. Technological progress has provided even more opportunities for citizen oversight, particularly with the Internet. For example, Attorney General Cuomo and Comptroller DiNapoli recently created websites, www.sunlightny.com, and www.tmenbooknewyork.com allowing citizens unprecedented access to legislator activities and government financial workings. In 2009, Governor Paterson created a website, www.economicrecovery.ny.gov so that citizens can track state projects that are funded from the 2009 Federal Stimulus Package.
There are, however, significant exceptions to the kind of information the public can acquire, one of which is school district collective bargaining agreements. Collective bargaining agreements, covering salaries and benefits of all school district personnel and public employees, are made public after the contracts have been ratified. The magnitude of collective bargaining contracts cannot be overstated. School taxes represent 70-80% of a homeowner's property tax bill, and school teacher, administrative, and support staff salaries and benefits represent about 80% of school costs. It is clear that homeowners then are largely paying taxes to fund school staff salaries and benefits.
As the local property tax burden increases year after year, taxpayers are demanding information regarding collective bargaining agreements. Newspaper editorials throughout the State are in the opinion that school district residents deserve to know of collective bargaining terms so they can comment, discuss and debate them in a transparent and open manner. A Suffolk County Court Special Jury, in its investigation of fiscal irregularities in the Suffolk County school districts, recommended that taxpayers be given ample opportunity to review proposed school district employment contracts or amendments to contracts and hold discussions with local school board members prior to adoption (Grand Jury Report CPI-190.85 (1) (c), September 19, 2005).
Eleven states have collective bargaining that is accessible and open to the public. Some have opened up the process in its entirety, some partially, some in person, and some through session minutes. Other states such as Washington, Michigan and Wisconsin are exploring the possibility. It is time for New York, a state that prides itself on government access and transparency, to open up school district collective bargaining to the taxpayers who fund the contracts. Civil Service Law, Article 14, Section 201 sets forth definitions of key terms in the legislation.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY : This is new legislation.
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS : The fiscal implications will be minimal to none, since school districts and municipalities have operating websites and established public outreach systems.
EFFECTIVE DATE : This act shall take effect immediately.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 7350--A IN SENATE March 31, 2010 ___________Introduced by Sen. C. JOHNSON -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Investigations and Government Operations -- committee discharged, bill amended, ordered reprinted as amended and recommitted to said committee AN ACT to amend the public officers law, in relation to certain collec- tive bargaining agreements THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Paragraph (c) of subdivision 2 of section 87 of the public officers law, as added by chapter 933 of the laws of 1977, is amended to read as follows: (c) if disclosed would impair present or imminent contract awards or collective bargaining negotiations: (I) PROVIDED, HOWEVER, THAT RECORDS INDICATING THE PROPOSED TERMS OF A PUBLIC EMPLOYEE UNION OR SCHOOL DISTRICT COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT TOGETHER WITH FACTS DESCRIBING THE ECONOMIC IMPACT AND ANY NEW COSTS ATTRIBUTABLE TO SUCH AGREEMENT, CONTRACT OR AMENDMENT SHALL BE MADE AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING APPROVAL OF SUCH PROPOSED TERMS BY A PUBLIC EMPLOYEE UNION, AND AT LEAST TWO WEEKS PRIOR TO THE APPROVAL OR REJECTION OF SUCH PROPOSED TERMS BY THE PUBLIC EMPLOYER WHEN SUCH RECORDS ARE SENT TO MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC EMPLOYEE UNION FOR THEIR APPROVAL OR REJECTION; AND (II) THAT COPIES OF ALL PROPOSED PUBLIC EMPLOYEE UNION OR SCHOOL DISTRICT COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENTS, EMPLOYMENT CONTRACTS OR AMENDMENTS TO SUCH CONTRACTS TOGETHER WITH FACTS DESCRIBING THE ECONOMIC IMPACT AND ANY NEW COSTS ATTRIBUTABLE TO SUCH AGREEMENT, CONTRACT OR AMENDMENT BE PLACED ON THE MUNICIPAL OR SCHOOL DISTRICT WEBSITES, IF SUCH WEBSITES EXIST, AND WITHIN THE LOCAL PUBLIC LIBRARIES AND OFFICES OF SUCH SCHOOL DISTRICTS AT LEAST TWO WEEKS PRIOR TO APPROVAL OR REJECTION OF SUCH PROPOSED PUBLIC EMPLOYEE UNION OR SCHOOL DISTRICT PROPOSED COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENTS OR ACTION TAKEN TO APPROVE OTHER EMPLOYMENT CONTRACTS OR AMENDMENTS THERETO; S 2. This act shall take effect immediately.EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD08109-07-0