Freedom Foundation

State Senate Votes to Keep Secret Bargaining

On Feb. 27, the Washington State Legislature considered whether or not citizens, public employees and journalists could observe as Gov. Jay Inslee’s team negotiated a new collective bargaining agreement with the various unions that have donated heavily to his campaign.

They decided against it.

Collective Bargaining Agreements between the public and the unions that speak for government employees impact nearly all aspects of the services Washingtonians receive. Service levels, consequences for misdeeds, spending priorities, tax increases and even the rights of state residents are all impacted by the binding decisions made in secret collective bargaining sessions.

Even lawmakers have no real ability to establish their own priorities once the governor has promised employee unions certain concessions or spending expansions in the union contract.

Unlike Oregon and Idaho, Washington government entities are allowed to shut the public out of these critical decisions.

While considering the state budget, the state Senate heard an amendment offered by Sen. Mark Schoesler that would “facilitate the taxpayers’ understanding of public employee bargaining and its fiscal impact on the state budget” by allowing public observation.

The amendment was defeated with of 20 Republicans and one Democrat voting “yes” and 28 Democrats voting “no.”

It’s no surprise, but many of those opposing the amendment have government unions as their single largest campaign donors.

Watch the debate on the amendment here.

 

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