Earlier this week, the House State Government Committee moved SB 644 and SB 645—bills which would provide taxpayers greater information about contracts with government unions—to the House floor. Why do these bills matter?
On April 21, Gov. Tom Wolf reached a one year contract agreement with AFSCME, the largest union of state workers.
On May 19, the Secretary of Administration announced the ratification of AFSCME and UFCW (which represents liquor store workers) contracts by the unions’ members. The Administration told Charles Thompson of the Patriot News the two deals would cost around $23 million in additional costs next year.
On June 9, the Administration announced a one year contract with SEIU (representing about 10,000 state workers). Estimates of the contract’s annual cost weren’t provided.
To date, none of these contracts have been posted online, nor is a detailed summary or cost estimate available.
To be clear, it is now 65 days (more than 9 weeks) since the first report of a proposed agreement, 37 days (more than 5 weeks) since the announcement of AFSCME and UFCW contract ratification, and 16 days since the SEIU announcement. Yet, taxpayers and legislators still don’t have access to the details.
These examples show why contract transparency legislation is so very needed. Both examples demonstrate why critics are wrong to suggest two weeks is too long a time to have proposed contracts online. They claim transparency will “slow down the process.” But as the last few months make clear, such objections are red herrings.