Monday, October 12, 2015

Brown Signs Bill to Stop Scapegoating of Collective Bargaining

Last Friday, Governor Brown signed SB 331, the "Civic Reporting Openness in Negotiations Efficiency Act".  Legislators introduced the Act after some local governments adopted policies targeting labor negotiations, while keeping negotiations with city managers and outside contractors secret. These ordinances typically required information about pending collective bargaining be released to the public even before tentative agreements were reached. Many observers have been concerned these policies, while pitched as promoting transparency, were designed to prevent effective collective bargaining and obscure controversial management compensation and risky outside contractor spending.

Now, under the Act, local governments that claim to be concerned about transparency in contract negotiations cannot only target labor groups, but must apply the same rules equally to all contract negotiations.  Under the Act, any local government that has adopted a such an ordinance must also report on contracts made with private entities. A public agency must have an independent auditor report on the cost of any proposed contract, disclose all offers and counter offers, and approve the contract in open session. The bill states these procedures give the public a meaningful opportunity to participate in approving contractions.