Freedom Foundation
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Idaho Adopts Open Bargaining Law

The Freedom Foundation has been working to unmake some of the rules that give union officials such extraordinary power over laws, spending and government accountability.

One issue a number of states have changed is the ability of this private special-interest group to meet secretly with public officials and to decide the spending priorities of the school district, city, county or state. The issue is particularly alarming when the public officials doing the negotiating are beholden to unions for their election.

Thirteen states, including Oregon, already allow some level of access to the process of deciding how to accommodate public employees’ interests. In some cases, such as in Maryland and New Mexico, the union officials were the ones who requested open bargaining sessions.

Last fall, Colorado voters approved Proposition 104, School Board Open Meetings, by a 70 percent majority.

On April 6, the governor of Idaho signed legislation assuring public access to public employee labor negotiations in that state. The bill passed unanimously.

Meanwhile, Washington lawmakers were unwilling to pass Senate Bill 5329, which would provide similar transparency for public employee union negotiations in Washington.

The bill will be before the Legislature until the end of the legislative term in 2016, and we will continue to seek to open these meetings to the taxpayers who fund bargaining agreements and the residents whose services are impacted by these agreements.

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