The Interim Finance Committee on Thursday approved nearly $1.5 million in spending to fund the Labor Relations Unit to hire staff and pay the costs of implementing collective bargaining.
The 2019 Legislature passed legislation giving state workers the right to unionize and bargain for better pay and benefits. But lawmakers didn’t put any money in the budget to pay for the process.
Director of Administration Laura Freed told lawmakers that, by the time the legislation was passed, the budgets had already been closed so there was no opportunity to increase the personnel assessment to pay the costs of actually implementing the law and managing the process. She requested and the committee approved adding seven new positions to including a labor negotiator and an actuary.
Freed told the committee five of the 11 potential units contained in the legislation already have exclusive representation with a labor union. She said while the bill anticipated negotiations not actually beginning until November, those five units could file paperwork to begin negotiations in 60 days.
Those groups include correctional officers and peace officers as well as healthcare workers employed by the state.
She said there is “a strong possibility” human resources will ask IFC to raise that personnel assessment in 2021. That would require the support not only of Interim Finance but the governor.