Harrisburg, Pa., September 19, 2023 – Today, the Pennsylvania Senate State Government Committee advanced Senate Bill 399, a critical piece of legislation that brings urgently needed transparency to the collective bargaining process. The Commonwealth Foundation applauds the Senate Committee’s decisive action to increase government accountability on behalf of workers and taxpayers across Pennsylvania.
Senate Bill 399, sponsored by Senator Pat Stefano (R-32), requires public sector employers to post proposed collective bargaining agreements, along with cost estimates, on their websites at least two weeks before a deal is signed. Further, it stipulates that these documents must remain accessible on the public employer’s website for 30 days after signing.
Pennsylvania’s current law leaves taxpayers with no say or visibility into the collective bargaining process, despite the substantial financial impact these agreements have on state and local taxes. The secrecy surrounding these negotiations results in billion-dollar contracts being negotiated behind closed doors, with government union executives solely in charge. These same union executives often operate without input from Pennsylvania workers and have outsized influence in the political process.
“Transparency in the collective bargaining process is a win-win for both workers and taxpayers,” said Kevin Kane, Director of Legislative Strategy at the Commonwealth Foundation. “It ensures that contracts are negotiated fairly to provide just compensation for public sector workers while protecting hardworking taxpayers from overburdensome government costs. We urge the Pennsylvania legislature to pass Senate Bill 399 and uphold their commitment to creating an accountable and transparent state government.”
Currently, 15 states have already implemented various degrees of transparency during the collective bargaining process, including public access to negotiation materials and proposed contracts. Texas, Louisiana, and neighboring Ohio, for example, require the public posting of proposed collective bargaining agreements before approval.
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