City Council stalls decision on moving union propositions to the ballot
August 27, 2014
By Lois Krafsky-Perry
for Citizen Review Online
Sequim, WA – Sign wavers crowded the street in front of the Sequim Transit Center, August 25, to express support with some showing disdain for two Propositions submitted to the City Council for either passage or placement on the ballot, as required by law.
Proposition 1 and Proposition 2, both regarding workers and citizens’ rights regarding union meetings and dues, were submitted on time for the November ballot, but after a late executive session, the council voted to visit it again at the September 8 meeting. This decision made it impossible to make the August 28 deadline for the November 4 ballot, to be decided by the voters. Mayor Laura Dubois stated they had received an email from Board member Ken Hayes, who did not attend the meeting. He asked that a decision not be made until the whole board attended. The matter was brought before counsel/attorney Craig Ritchie.
Approximately 125 people filled the center, as citizens and visitors shared public comment. Five people sent emails, which were admitted, but not shared,by the board. Emails were received from Shelly and Gary Taylor, Sue Erzon, and Clare and William Bartlett.
David Dewhurst, State Director of the Referendum Initiative Institute, gave an overview and explained the process for submitting Proposition 1 and Proposition 2.
Susan Shotthafer, Port Angeles, explained the propositions.
“Proposition 1 makes plain common sense. Individuals don’t hire for services without knowing their costs,” said Shottefer. “City employees have a right to know terms of contracts being negotiated. Common sense tells us transparent negotiations will promote accountability, integrity, and frugal spending.”
Schotthofer explained that Proposition 2 restores freedom of association to middle class city employees. Under forced membership, public sector unions hold a monopoly in the city. This union monopoly prevents competition. Therefore, city funds may not hire the most competent, but only those joining unions. Proposition 2 provides freedom of association, and most qualified employees, to serve taxpayers.
Please adopt these initiatives, Schotthofer urged. Otherwise, please immediately place them the ballot. Let voters decide. You have only two options. Your must decide by August 28. (See Shotthafer’s full statement below).
Bob McGonigel, Sequim citizen, said this was about attacking the process, which he said is extortion or coercion, by forcing someone to join a union. Negotiating in private was also addressed by the retired government worker.
Nola Judd, Sequim, asked the board to adopt the ordinance in order to meet the August 28 deadline to place on the November ballot.
Jerry Sinn, Sequim, testified on behalf of the propositions. “Bargaining meetings are about using tax expenditures…Secrecy can only lead to abuse, ” said Sinn. He stated that taxpayer union members have a vested interest in this, as he referred to Proposition 1.
Lois Daxter, Port Angeles, said, “This county is majority rule”, as she spoke against the Propositions.
Jeanette Chrysler, Sequim, had worked hard going door to door gathering signatures. She said she was not happy with a sign outside that had a slash through the words, ‘right to work’.
Dan Donovan, Sequim said, “Closed door sessions should not be legal”
Tim Wheeler, Sequim, spoke against the propositions. He stated this was an attack on workers and was a mendacious act of language to those who are seeking to smash wages.
Dan Taylor, union leader from Port Townsend who said he also works for Sequim, was against the propositions. “This is really about legality….the City can hire anyone they want,” he said.
Pat MacRobbie, Sequim, disagreed with the Propositions and said it was a misrepresentation of unions.
Andrew Radich, Port Angeles disagreed with the Propositions and said he “felt” this was written by big money.
Other people who testified included Joyce Wheeler, Sequim (against); Sam Woods, Port Angeles (against); Sherry Bernell, Port Angeles (against); Max Nelson, Olympia, Freedom Foundation (for); Melvina Worman, Sequim (for); Nelson Cone (against); and William Caldon, Port Angeles (against).
Following is the testimony given by Susan Shotthafer:
“Proposition 1 makes plain common sense. Individuals don’t hire for services without knowing their costs. Six hundred and fifty-four taxpayers eagerly reinforced their right to observe the negotiation process when they signed the Proposition 1 petition. They want to know the wage and benefit costs during the contract discussions. City employees have a right to know terms of contracts being negotiated. Common sense tells us transparent negotiations will promote accountability, integrity, and frugal spending.
“Proposition 2 restores freedom of association to middle class city employees. The current situation compares to a business requiring employees to join the company’s church and tithe regularly as a condition of employment because the company thinks religious guidance benefits employees. Mandatory union membership is extremely unfair because this discriminates against 48 middle class job seekers needing to provide for themselves and their families, but not wanting union membership. Under forced membership, public sector unions hold a monopoly in the city. This union monopoly prevents competition. Therefore, city funds may not hire the most competent, but only those joining unions. Proposition 2 provides freedom of association, and most qualified employees, to serve taxpayers’.
“Only 7% of private sector employees now choose union membership. Thirty-five percent of public employees belong to unions. The logical conclusion given freedom to opt out, many public sector employees would prefer not to belong to unions.
“Profit is inherent in the term carpetbagger, as we have been attacked. I realize many here cannot face the reality that freedom’s fire fueled our middle class volunteers. Together, we spent approximately 200 hours of energy for these initiatives, not for material gains, but for intangibles, integrity, accountability, fairness, and liberty.
“I quote: “Freedom is not the property of one generation; it is the obligation of this and every generation. It’s our duty to pass it undiminished to those still unborn.” –President Reagan
“If we owe undiminished freedom to the unborn, I believe we also have a duty to restore and promote the freedom of middle class families in neighboring cities.
“Please adopt these initiatives. Otherwise, please immediately place them the ballot. Let voters decide. You have only 2 options. Your must decide by August 28. Thank you.”
An explanation of the rationales for both Propositions was sent out by the Concerned Citizens of Clallam County nonpartisan group (Four C), which is set out below:
Why have a Worker Protection Initiative?
What it would do
The collective bargaining protections ordinance, if enacted, would change some of the details of the city’s collective bargaining agreements. It would do three things: 1. Would prohibit a union security clause which forces people to lose their job if they don’t join a union. 2. Would prohibit public gifting clauses that make taxpayers fund activities that the unions should be paying for such as union training days. 3. Mandate the inclusion of an anti-strike clause with penalties.
Local governments have the legal latitude to negotiate many aspects of a collective bargaining agreement, however, these items are rarely addressed. By passing these items by ordinance or by local initiative, the collective bargaining agreements will be limited by these clauses.
1. Free Association – Public employees should have the right to work without being forced to join a union and send their hard-earned money out of state.
2. Public Funds – taxpayers shouldn’t pay for things that should be paid for by the unions from their member’s dues, such as union training days.
3. Strike – public employees don’t have the right to interrupt important services to the community and public-sector unions should be prohibited from striking.
Why does this matter to you?
1. Free Association – It’s not fair that public employees can be fired if they don’t want to join the union. This ordinance would give assurances to our city employees that union membership is voluntary.
2. Public Funds – It’s not right that the public is paying for things that union bosses should be paying for from the dues they have been collecting. Did you know that taxpayers are footing the bill for union training days?
3. Interruption of Services – Since our city employees are being paid by taxpayers, union bosses shouldn’t be able to hold the public hostage by stopping work. This ordinance would prohibit public employee strikes.
Why this Transparency Initiative?
What it would do?
The transparency ordinance, if enacted, would make collective bargaining meetings open to the public. It would also require both the public and the union members be notified prior to any meetings.
When meetings are open to the public, representatives on both sides are held accountable to their constituents: union representatives to their members, and elected officials to the taxpayers. Unusual or strange decisions are less likely to happen when the meetings are subject to public scrutiny.
Why does it matter to you?
Collective bargaining should come out from behind closed doors. Public employees are the single largest expense to our city government and both the public and union members have a right to view the negotiation of these contracts. Other states–such as Oregon–understand the importance of holding open collective bargaining meetings. When these meetings are open to public scrutiny, neither the public, or the union members are left guessing how their interests were represented.
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