Collective bargaining must be open process says Braun

Sen. John Braun’s legislation, Senate Bill 5329 that would require public employees’ union negotiations to be open to the public received a hearing in the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee Monday.

“It is important to have transparency and openness in government,” Braun, R- Centralia, said. “We’ve recently seen private negotiations between the governor’s office and public unions that resulted in over a half a billion dollar obligation for the taxpayers. The public deserves visibility on these negotiations.”

The Open Public Meetings Act requires that all meetings of governing bodies of public agencies, be open and accessible to the public, however, public employee collective bargaining is exempt from compliance.A meeting is generally defined as any situation where a majority of members from a governing body meet and discuss the business of that body. Braun’s proposed legislation would remove the current exemption from the act and require collective bargaining meetings to be open.

“Bargaining should not be done in secret,” Braun said. “Eliminating this exemption is a reasonable step toward increasing transparency in government and ensuring a balance between the interests of our state employees and those that pay the salaries.”