Renne said members from his organization talked to each member of the council and said he is confident that the parts of the bill he opposes, namely disclosure and the arbitration panel, will be removed.

As of now the bill awaits committee without a co-sponsor. Rice, who made his decision to remove his name from the bill after the July 12 public hearing, did not respond to a request to comment on this story.

At the July 12 public hearing the bill was met with strong opposition from union members and progressives who claimed that Floreen’s bill is intended to cripple union power.

Floreen said she introduced the bill because of complaints about the collective bargaining process from County Executive Ike Leggett’s staff, such as the County Executive was afraid to go to arbitration negotiations out of fear they would lose.

“We heard for years from the County Executive (D) people there were lots of problems, that they were reluctant to go to arbitration…this was an effort to even things out,” Floreen said.

Floreen said that is it likely that her bill will be changed in committee, but noted that is the typical process for most bills. 

On July 13, a day after the public hearing, Leggett wrote a letter to Floreen asking her to delay the bill saying the council needs more time to insure there are no unintended consequences.

Leggett said he supports some of Floreen’s proposals in the bill, but when specifically asked what aspects of the bill he supported Leggett declined to answer.

“I agree with her basic premise, but I don’t think you can get it done right now,” he said.

Leggett said when the council returns in September it will be too close the start of negotiations Nov. 1.

One part of Floreen’s bill does have the support of the unions—lengthening the negotiating time by two weeks. 

“The one thing is that everyone agrees on is that we need more time, “Floreen said. “Other than that they haven’t offered any suggestions.”

Floreen’s proposed changes to the collective bargaining process come after a long negotiation between the County Executive and the public sector unions over pay increases. 

As part of his budget, Leggett agreed to give county employees and police an extra 3.5 percent step increase to make up for a lost pay increase from a previous and firefighters a two percent wage adjustment.

The council ultimately chose not to fund one of the 3.5 percent pay increases for county workers and police and one percent of firefighters scheduled two percent wage adjustment.

Renne was not happy with the council’s decision to not fund part of his union’s salary increases, but said he does not think the process needs to be changed through legislation.

Renne proposes that the unions and the County Executive sit down with the council before negotiations to discuss each side’s position. Renne said having the council more involved in the collective bargaining process would give them better a prospective.

“It would give the council a better appreciation for why the contract looks the way it does,” Renne said. “And secondly, it would potentially alleviate any drawing lines in the sand between the unions and the council.”

@neal_earley

 

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