This op-ed was originally published in the Spokesman-Review on December 23, 2018.
The Spokane County Board of Commissioners earlier this month voted to approve a resolution opening the county’s collective bargaining negotiations with unions representing county employees to public observation. In so doing, the commissioners adopted a forward-looking government transparency reform and set an example the rest of the state should follow.
Collective bargaining agreements negotiated by public employers and government unions determine the wages and benefits public employees receive. They’re also policy documents that can have a significant effect on how government agencies operate and the services they provide.
Unlike in private industry, unions representing government employees negotiate with elected officials or their representatives. This gives unions a big incentive to try and elect the officials that will sit opposite them at the bargaining table when negotiating over how to spend public funds.