Public Hearings for Public Contracts?
Governor Donald Carcieri has proposed that cities and towns hold public hearings on the terms of labor contracts before committing to them.
Governor Carcieri wants to force municipalities to hold public hearings to review tentative labor agreements before they are finalized, a move that union officials yesterday said would lead to harassment and unnecessary political pressure. The plan, submitted as part of the governor’s 2008-’09 budget, would also require cities and towns to submit pending labor agreements and fiscal impact statements to the state auditor general to “note his or her approval as to accuracy and reliability of the dollar estimates….”
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“This budget article will improve transparency of budget decisions in local cities and towns, while giving people a voice in the decision-making process by requiring a public hearing,” the governor’s spokesman, Jeff Neal, said. “If approved, it would enable the citizens of local communities to express their support for, concerns about or opposition to collective bargaining contracts being agreed to by municipalities.”
The NEA is not thrilled with the idea.
“I just think it’s another form, to be honest with you, of causing some undue harassment, whether direct or indirect, by allowing this process,” Henry Boeniger, a lobbyist for the National Education Association, testified before the House Finance Committee. “We elect officials to negotiate contracts. It’s sort of like letting other people negotiate contracts.”
“We elect officials to negotiate contracts” which reflect our will. If this is happening, why would there be a distaste for hearings? Wouldn’t the feedback simply affirm what the elected officials negotiated?
Governor Carcieri addressed his proposal this morning on the John Depetro Show on WPRO. He also condemned work-to-rule, terming it “poisonous” and observing that it not only puts teachers in an unfair position but with this tactic, “children become pawns in the negotiation”. These remarks can be found towards the beginning of this podcast.