The Assembly Ways and Means Committee on Monday was asked to approve a bill city and county officials say would help rein in binding arbitration for their workers.
AB249 by Assemblyman Jim Wheeler, R-Gardnerville, would require factfinders and arbitrators look not only at local government’s immediate ability to pay increased salaries and benefits but at the long term sustainability of that ability to pay.
Mary Walker, representing Carson, Lyon, Douglas and Storey counties, said at present, factfinders only look at the current ability to pay.
“The one time sale of property that goes to the General Fund, that money is now available for collective bargaining,” she said.
She said whether or not that money would be available in future years isn’t considered.
Under AB249, she said, factfinders and arbitrators cannot consider non-recurring revenues or transfers in granting higher wages and benefits.
“They have to look at the sustainability of granting increases in salaries and benefits,” she said.
In addition, she said it allows local governments to exempt three months of General Fund revenue — 25 percent of expenditures — from collective bargaining.
Wheeler said the bill also mandates the terms of a collective bargaining agreement be public and available for comment 21 days before it’s signed into law.
He said that means the bill not only would help provide local governments with more financial stability but would add transparency to the entire process.
Rusty McAllister representing the state’s firefighters, opposed the bill saying it would greatly increase the number of union grievances because the ability of local governments “to play hide and seek with the money.” He said they move money into exempt line items in their budgets to keep it away from collective bargaining and then, once the budget is done and the agreement with workers signed, “they pull that money out and use it elsewhere.”
He was joined in opposition by three other union representatives.
The committee took no action on AB249.