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Are Unions Agreeable to Hold Public Negotiations?

Are Unions Agreeable to Hold Public Negotiations?

March 19, 2015

It's time our elected representatives stood up to the bullying tactics and unfair bargaining practices of public employee union bosses.

On July 18, Grays Harbor County Commissioner Wes Cormier wrote a letter to WSCCCE, Hannah Franks, to inquire as to whether the union would be "agreeable to hold public negotiations."

Twelve days later, the union responded.

Dear Mr. Cormier,

"The union will not agree to public negotiations... we have a contract with Grays Harbor County, not with the public... the public is not a party to the contract. (I)t has a chilling effect on the members of the unit... we believe that this is domination."

The letter then goes on to claim transparency is actually intimidation and then proceeds to threaten the county commissioner to "reconsider (the) request to negotiate in front of the public."

Let's get this straight: The residents of Grays Harbor County elected Wes Cormier to represent them. The residents of Washington voted to enact by initiative the Open Public Meetings Act, which states:

"The people of this state do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created." RCW 42.30.010

While the unions may not have a contract with the taxpayer, they are negotiating public finances with publicly elected representatives who do have a contract with the people.

The union is free to hold secret meetings and negotiations with its members, but it is absurd to believe the union has the authority to force elected officials to do the people's business in private.

Thomas Jefferson famously observed that, "An informed citizenry is the only true repository of the public will."

Apparently not all unions, or states, believe transparent collective bargaining sessions are "domination". Both our neighboring states negotiate public union contracts in public.

Idaho's Education Association President Sherri Wood recently said the union supports "more technology in schools, transparent bargaining sessions and even pay for performance."

Oregon law states that "negotiations shall be conducted in open meetings unless negotiators for both sides request that negotiations be conducted in executive session."

What other motivation could the union and our elected officials have to hold secret meetings than to erect a protective barrier from their constituents?

The time is now to put an end to secret meetings and union bosses bullying our public officials. Demand your elected officials hold all negotiations with union representatives in a public forum.

This is your government; don't let special interests dominate your elected officials. 

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