Legislature(2003 - 2004)

05/02/2003 04:05 PM House L&C

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= 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                                                               
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                                                               
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                                                               
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                                                               
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                                                               
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.                                                                                    

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