Legislature(2003 - 2004)
05/02/2003 04:05 PM House L&C
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SB 95-72-HOUR NOTICE OF TEACHER STRIKE CHAIR ANDERSON announced that the first order of business would be SENATE BILL NO. 95, "An Act relating to strikes by employees of a municipal school district, a regional educational attendance area, or a state boarding school, and requiring notice of at least 72 hours of a strike by those employees." Number 0115 SENATOR LYDA GREEN, Alaska State Legislature, spoke as the sponsor of SB 95. She explained that SB 95 would require school employees of a school district to provide written notice of an impending strike at least 72 hours prior to any labor action. The primary focus of SB 95 is to protect students and to advise parents of any changes that may occur in the schedule, specifically related to canceled buses. She turned to Section 1, which seems to delete a lot of statutory language regarding employees and the bargaining unit. However, she pointed out that the language being deleted under Section 1(d) is inserted, in whole, on page 2, lines 12-25. The new language [to be inserted in the statutes] is on page 2, lines 26-31. SENATOR GREEN informed the committee that she introduced SB 95 upon the request of folks in her school district. These folks are concerned that in the Mat-Su Valley area there are a lot of commuters that leave early, and therefore may be on the way to Anchorage or in Anchorage when they learn that there is a strike and their children are unattended. REPRESENTATIVE LYNN inquired as to how large of this problem is. SENATOR GREEN pointed out that the committee packet includes an [article from the January 16, 1999, Anchorage Daily News] which discusses an unnoticed strike that occurred in Anchorage in 1999. REPRESENTATIVE LYNN questioned why anyone would be opposed to 72-hour notice of a strike. Number 0396 SENATOR GREEN said that there has been little [problem with this]. She related that only 12 states allow for strikes, and of those states [there is a range of notice requirements] before a strike occurs. REPRESENTATIVE GUTTENBERG inquired as to how many of the states that don't allow for strikes have binding arbitration. SENATOR GREEN said that wasn't researched. REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG inquired as to why the 72-hour notice was chosen. SENATOR GREEN answered that the 72-hour notice was enough time to get through a weekend or a holiday weekend. With the 72-hour notice there would be enough time for several news casts, newspaper announcements, and telephone calls. In further response to Representative Rokeberg's understanding that the language in subsection (g)(2) would require at least one full day of school, Senator Green specified that it's just 72 hours from the time the notice is given. REPRESENTATIVE GUTTENBERG inquired as to the process/timeframe required for striking. SENATOR GREEN said that currently there is no notice requirement. REPRESENTATIVE GUTTENBERG related his notion that this issue could be entirely eliminated by forcing the employees into binding arbitration. He asked if the aforementioned was considered. SENATOR GREEN replied no. Number 0705 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG turned attention to the sectional analysis included in the committee packet. He highlighted that the sectional analysis under Section 2, item 3, specifies, "The 72-hour notice must include at least one in-session school day." Therefore, the legislation requires a two-tier test of 72-hour notice and at least one full day of school. He noted his agreement with that two-tier test. CHAIR ANDERSON noted that the Alaska Council of School Administrators (ACSA) supports SB 95, [as evidenced by the letter from ACSA in the committee packet]. He expressed interest in hearing testimony today because, although the legislation has been around for three months, he hasn't heard from any labor representative regarding this issue. Upon determining there were no other questions, Chair Anderson turned to public testimony. Number 0766 JOHN ALCANTRA, Government Relations Director, National Education Association - Alaska (NEA-Alaska), informed the committee that the 12,000 members of NEA-Alaska are compromised of parents and grandparents of school-aged children, and NEA-Alaska agrees that SB 95 will provide stability for children and their parents. The bottom line is that members of NEA-Alaska are members of the communities in which they work [and reside] and any legislation that attempts to improve community and student safety meets with the approval of the NEA-Alaska membership. REPRESENTATIVE LYNN surmised that NEA-Alaska and ACSA agree on this matter. MR. ALCANTRA responded as long as the issues of fairness exist, he didn't see any real problems with SB 95. Number 0906 DON ETHERIDGE, Alaska AFL-CIO, related that the Alaska AFL-CIO isn't present to oppose SB 95 because a child's safety is of utmost importance. However, he posed a situation in which the 72-hour notice was given, but an agreement was made [before the official beginning of the strike]. In such a situation, could the employees return to work, he asked. SENATOR GREEN related her intention that at any point there could be a change in direction such that an agreement [could be reached and employees could return to work]. REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG asked if, in the situation posed by Mr. Etheridge, there is typically a right of recession. He asked if Mr. Etheridge was aware of any other contracts which include a notice provision and a recession provision. MR. ETHERIDGE answered that he wasn't aware of any [contract] requiring notice of a strike. This would be new ground. REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG remarked that the legislative intent would be the use of common sense [such that an agreement could mean that employees return to work before a strike officially begins]. REPRESENTATIVE GUTTENBERG inquired as to the number of employees this [legislation would impact] and asked whether it would include employees other than NEA members and teachers. MR. ETHERIDGE clarified that [SB 95 refers to employees of] NEA, Local 71, noncovered employees. He related his interpretation that this legislation speaks to any employee of the school district. REPRESENTATIVE GUTTENBERG surmised that this would include the maintenance staff as well. MR. ETHERIDGE indicated agreement. Number 1128 REPRESENTATIVE DAHLSTROM moved to report SB 95 out of committee with individual recommendations and the accompanying fiscal notes. There being no objection, SB 95 was reported from the House Labor and Commerce Standing Committee.