Legislature(2009 - 2010)BARNES 124

04/13/2009 03:15 PM House LABOR & COMMERCE

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved Out of Committee
Moved Out of Committee
Heard & Held
-- Testimony limited to 2 min. each --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
HB 37- RIGHT TO WORK                                                                                                          
4:23:51 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR OLSON announced  that the final order of  business would be                                                               
HOUSE BILL NO.  37, "An Act relating to  the relationship between                                                               
employees   and  labor   organizations;  prohibiting   collective                                                               
bargaining contracts  that require employees  to join a  labor or                                                               
employee organization;  extending the policy and  limitations set                                                               
out in this Act to  public employers and public employees subject                                                               
to  the Public  Employment Relations  Act; and  providing for  an                                                               
effective date."                                                                                                                
4:23:54 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  OLSON   stated  that  the  committee   would  take  public                                                               
testimony.  He  noted that many people who wanted  to testify did                                                               
not get an opportunity to do so at the last hearing.                                                                            
4:24:15 PM                                                                                                                    
ZINN DECKER  stated that he  is a  40-year Alaska resident  and a                                                               
union electrician.   He  expressed concern with  HB 37,  since it                                                               
affects his union's  ability to negotiate a  living wage, provide                                                               
adequate retirement to allow his  family to remain in Alaska, and                                                               
also  provide  sufficient  medical  coverage.   He  offered  that                                                               
nonunion  employees have  401(k) plans,  but that  is not  nearly                                                               
enough for retirement.   He opined that HB 37  would lower wages,                                                               
medical   and  retirement   benefits  for   union  and   nonunion                                                               
employees.   The  bill  does not  allow people  to  keep up  with                                                               
inflation  costs  and  the  higher  cost  of  living  in  Alaska.                                                               
Enacting HB  37 into law would  be a bad decision  as states that                                                               
have Right  to Work  laws do  not admit  to lower  wages, medical                                                               
benefits, or insufficient retirement plans.                                                                                     
4:26:20 PM                                                                                                                    
JOHN BROWN stated he is a  retired operating engineer.  He opined                                                               
that HB 37  does not have anything  to do with the  Right to Work                                                               
and this legislation  has been around for many years.   He stated                                                               
that  the  bill  would  allow  people  to  obtain  something  for                                                               
nothing, which  is wrong.  He  opined the fact is  that no matter                                                               
what industry, a person working  under a union contract will make                                                               
30 to 35  percent more in wages and benefits.   He stressed there                                                               
is a value to  a union contract.  However, it  costs funds to put                                                               
a union  plan into place.   This bill would allow  individuals to                                                               
decide to  take the  benefits but  not pay anything  for it.   He                                                               
opined that  the unions ask  employees to pay  a fair share.   He                                                               
stated that  no one  has to  join, but they  must pay  fees which                                                               
generally range from  two and four percent.  He  also stated that                                                               
the  unions are  good for  everyone, including  communities since                                                               
wages  create a  ripple effect  through  the economy.   He  urged                                                               
members to not support HB 37.                                                                                                   
MIKE  LITTLEFIELD, Business  Agent, Teamsters  Local 959,  stated                                                               
that he is a member of Teamsters  Local 959.  He offered that the                                                               
Teamsters Local  959 is opposed  to HB  37.  He  cited statistics                                                               
from the  U.S. Department  of Labor and  extrapolated that  HB 37                                                               
would  reduce wages  for working  families by  nearly $5,500  per                                                               
year,  increase  poverty rates  by  over  12.5 percent,  increase                                                               
those  without  health  insurance  by 21  percent,  and  increase                                                               
infant mortality by 16 percent.   Lastly, nonunion workers have a                                                               
51 percent  higher death and injury  rate on the job.   He opined                                                               
that  this  bill  is  a  direct  attack  on  unions  and  working                                                               
Alaskans.   He said, "I  just don't think this  legislation needs                                                               
to be passed."                                                                                                                  
4:30:00 PM                                                                                                                    
TIM  SHARP,   Business  Manager,   Alaska  District   Council  of                                                               
Laborers,  Local 942,  stated  that on  behalf  of 5,000  working                                                               
Alaska, he wished to speak in  opposition to HB 37.  He expressed                                                               
concern that  with issues Alaska  is facing such as  the gasline,                                                               
energy concerns, and a huge  recession, that someone would choose                                                               
to fight  with organized  labor in  Alaska.   "Right to  Work for                                                               
less" laws speak for themselves,  as do the organized labor laws,                                                               
which drive  up better wages,  benefits, and  working conditions.                                                               
"It  seems that  some of  our legislators  have decided  the real                                                               
problem  in Alaska  is  that  working people  in  this state  are                                                               
making too  much money  so they  want to  bring the  average wage                                                               
down for all  Alaskan workers - union and nonunion."   The "Right                                                               
to Work  for less" law  is designed by business  to legislatively                                                               
kill or  neuter unions, the  only remaining viable voice  for the                                                               
American worker.   When this has happened in  other states, wages                                                               
dropped or staggered  and benefits atrophied.   "Why would anyone                                                               
want this for Alaskans," he  asked.  Nationwide, unions represent                                                               
only 12  to 14 percent of  the American workforce, but  in Alaska                                                               
unions represent 20 to 25 percent  of the workforce.  The average                                                               
wages  and benefits  show the  results of  the demographics.   As                                                               
recently as  three weeks ago  a national poll in  Parade magazine                                                               
showed that  90 percent of  Americans still support the  need for                                                               
labor unions;  they don't support  the need for  weakened unions.                                                               
"It's  curious to  me  that some  of the  very  same people  that                                                               
oppose  minimum  wage  increases,   improved  safety  and  health                                                               
standards,   prevailing  wage   standards,   and  project   labor                                                               
agreements  are connected  with sponsoring  this bill,"  he said.                                                               
Some people  look for fights  and problems  to cover up  and take                                                               
the  people's focus  away  from the  truly  important issues  for                                                               
Alaska.   There's an old Irish  saying that goes, "May  the devil                                                               
take the toes  of all our foes  that we would know  them by their                                                               
limping.   As  far as  our  labor organization  goes anyone  that                                                               
votes to  support the "Right to  Work for less" law  for Alaskans                                                               
will be seen  as limping," he said.  The  union record speaks for                                                               
itself.   "Please vote against HB  37.  It's bad  for unions, bad                                                               
for workers, and bad for Alaska," he said.                                                                                      
4:33:02 PM                                                                                                                    
RANDY GRIFFIN  opined that he  is in favor of  HB 37 since  he is                                                               
also pro-freedom.   He stated that the United  States is supposed                                                               
to be a place  of freedom, and Alaska is supposed  to be the land                                                               
of the  free.  He opined  that freedom means that  one individual                                                               
can make  a deal with another  without guns pointed at  our heads                                                               
or   any  coercion   directed   from   our  federal   government.                                                               
Additionally, he  stated that  he supports  the right  of private                                                               
property.   He  offered his  belief  that people  have lost  many                                                               
freedoms  in  this country,  but  still  retains the  ability  to                                                               
testify.  He offered that he has  worked as a union member in the                                                               
1970s, and was  also a laborer during construction  of the Trans-                                                               
Alaska Pipeline System.   He further stated that  he is currently                                                               
a nonunion  worker in building  maintenance.  He opined  that the                                                               
1935 National  Labor Relations Act  is wrong or at  least aspects                                                               
of  it are  wrong.   He  related that  the first  labor act,  the                                                               
National   Industrial   Recovery   Act   was   struck   down   as                                                               
unconstitutional.  He said:                                                                                                     
     Now, union people  are good.  And  everybody wants good                                                                    
     working  conditions.   And  so do  I,  and high  wages.                                                                    
     But, it's whether  we stick a gun at  someone's head to                                                                    
     get them.   That's what's  wrong.  The unions,  if they                                                                    
     get out  of hand they  can destroy the  steel industry,                                                                    
     the auto industry,  and a lot of people  think that the                                                                    
     unions raise wages.   They certainly do  but they don't                                                                    
     raise   the   total   productivity   of   the   nation.                                                                    
     Therefore,  they  don't  raise  the whole  lot  of  the                                                                    
     votes.  I see I've gone  over the time and I don't want                                                                    
     to be unfair.                                                                                                              
MR. GRIFFIN urged the committee to vote yes on HB 37.                                                                           
4:35:29 PM                                                                                                                    
MARK   DRYGAS,   Battalion   Chief,  Alaska   Professional   Fire                                                               
Association  (APFA)  stated  that  the nearly  500  APFA  members                                                               
respond to  75 percent  of all  911 calls in  Alaska.   He stated                                                               
that he  is opposed to HB  37.  He recalled  earlier testimony by                                                               
the  bill's   sponsor,  and  advised   that  there  is   not  any                                                               
prohibition  for  any  of  its   members  to  volunteer  for  any                                                               
volunteer fire department.  He  related his understanding that in                                                               
the past 20 years  no one has been disciplined for  doing so.  He                                                               
highlighted that this  practice happens in Fairbanks  and in many                                                               
locations in the state.                                                                                                         
4:36:47 PM                                                                                                                    
TIM EVANS stated  that he is very  opposed to HB 37.   He offered                                                               
some  reasons for  his opposition  including that  all union  and                                                               
nonunion  wages and  benefits would  be reduced,  and his  belief                                                               
that 21  percent of Right  to Work states lack  health insurance.                                                               
He related  that safety and  health standards are reduced  in non                                                               
free  bargaining unit  states.    He opined  that  deaths are  51                                                               
percent higher  in Right to  Work states.   He asked  why someone                                                               
should enjoy the benefits of a  bargaining unit and not pay their                                                               
fair  share  since unions  provide  the  same representation  for                                                               
nonunion employees.   He further opined that  unions offer better                                                               
wages, benefits,  and representation.  The  majority of employees                                                               
would be harmed if some  employees do not pay for representation.                                                               
It is  not workers  who benefit from  Right to  Work legislation,                                                               
but the  greed of  corporation and large  contractors.   He asked                                                               
committee members to please vote no on HB 37.                                                                                   
4:38:41 PM                                                                                                                    
CHRIS GARCIA stated that he is opposed  to HB 37.  He said he has                                                               
worked in Right to Work states.   "Calling Right to Work right to                                                               
work would  be like putting  a euthanasia bill or  a pro-abortion                                                               
bill in the  legislature and calling it right to  life," he said.                                                               
He also  urged members  to oppose  HB 37.   In response  to Chair                                                               
Olson, Mr.  Garcia remarked that he  is also in favor  of HB 207,                                                               
the Maximum Benefit from Fishermen's Fund bill.                                                                                 
4:39:48 PM                                                                                                                    
ALLEN BUTE stated that  he is totally against HB 37.   He said he                                                               
just returned from Arizona and  where people are looking for work                                                               
at $4 and $5  an hour.  If this bill passes  it will bring people                                                               
into the  state from India and  China, he said.   The only reason                                                               
he can live here is because  he receives a decent retirement.  If                                                               
members are  serious about labor  issues, local hire is  an issue                                                               
the legislature  should address.   He said that when  people come                                                               
up from Salt  Lake City, they go  right to the North  Slope.  The                                                               
only way  control this is  through the project  labor agreements.                                                               
In  response  to  Representative  Buch,  he  stated  that  he  is                                                               
retired.  "Don't pass this bill, whatever you do," he said.                                                                     
4:42:39 PM                                                                                                                    
BRANDON  NICHOLS   stated  he  is   a  member   of  International                                                               
Brotherhood of  Electrical Workers  (IBEW).  He  said that  he is                                                               
strongly opposed  to HB 37.   Unions have  been a great  asset to                                                               
our workers since  they provide improved safety,  good wages, and                                                               
medical benefits.   Union friendly  states have higher  wages and                                                               
more  medical   coverage  and  union  companies   are  much  more                                                               
prosperous, he  stated.   He offered  that he  cannot think  of a                                                               
single  country opposed  to unions  that the  U.S. should  try to                                                               
emulate.  He urged members not to support HB 37.                                                                                
4:43:46 PM                                                                                                                    
RICHARD  HENDREN  stated that  he  is  an  Alaskan citizen.    He                                                               
offered  his  belief that  HB  37  restores liberty  to  Alaska's                                                               
citizens.  He  suggested that members swore an oath  of office to                                                               
uphold the constitution and today  members have an opportunity to                                                               
do so.  He opined that  Alaska's constitution is dedicated to the                                                               
principles  that  all  persons  have a  natural  right  to  life,                                                               
liberty, and  the pursuit of  happiness and the enjoyment  of the                                                               
rewards of their  own industry.  Elected  officials are entrusted                                                               
to uphold these rights.  The  restrictions imposed in law must be                                                               
necessary  to  protect  citizens'  rights and  must  not  violate                                                               
people's rights.   He  stated that the  [federal law]  as written                                                               
requires  employees to  make  payments  to private  organizations                                                               
they may or  may not support, even if it  against their religious                                                               
beliefs.   He  said  he is  also  opposed to  union  dues.   This                                                               
federal law is  patently unjust.  Unions paint  bleak pictures of                                                               
Right  to Work  states, he  said.   He urged  members to  respect                                                               
their oaths and support the rights of citizens.                                                                                 
4:46:55 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE BUCH asked since he  is "standing up for himself,"                                                               
if anyone else stands up for him.                                                                                               
MR.   HENDREN  stated   that  Representative   Buch  does   as  a                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE BUCH explained that he  previously has worked as a                                                               
union organizer.  In that capacity,  his job was to represent the                                                               
unrepresented   workers  and   he  provided   that  service   for                                                               
unrepresented  workers  in his  region.    He  stood up  for  all                                                               
workers, including workers like Mr. Hendren, he said.                                                                           
4:48:13 PM                                                                                                                    
VINCE BELTRAMI,  President, Alaska  American Federation  of Labor                                                               
and  Congress of  Industrial  Organizations (AFL-CIO),  mentioned                                                               
that at  the last hearing  over 30  people were at  the Anchorage                                                               
Legislative Information  Office (LIO) to testify  but were unable                                                               
to do so.   He expressed concern that testifiers  were limited to                                                               
testimony time,  yet representatives  from the national  Right to                                                               
Work committee were allowed more time to testify.                                                                               
CHAIR OLSON offered  that a former commissioner  testified for an                                                               
even longer  time.  Additionally,  he noted that some  people are                                                               
not  testifying as  public  members, but  are  testifying at  the                                                               
request of the sponsor.                                                                                                         
MR. BELTRAMI quoted statistics such  that in Right to Work states                                                               
women receive  25 percent less  in wages, African  Americans earn                                                               
22.5 percent less,  and Hispanic workers earn 37  percent less in                                                               
wages.   Additionally, the disparity  between union  and nonunion                                                               
workers is over 30 percent.   He opined that this bill would have                                                               
a negative impact on women and  people of color.  He related that                                                               
no one  is forced to join  unions as that right  is guaranteed by                                                               
law and has been settled by  the U.S. Supreme Court.  He referred                                                               
to some cases such as the  U.S. Supreme Court case, 373 U.S. 734,                                                               
National Labor Relations Board v.  General Motors Corporation, or                                                               
Communications Workers  v. Beck, 487  U.S. 735 (1988).   Thus, he                                                               
opined that the right to not join a union is a moot point.                                                                      
MR. BELTRAMI  opined that  the National  Right to  Work Committee                                                               
(NRTWC)  committee promotes  these bills  around the  country and                                                               
are funded by  big corporate businesses.  He  further opined that                                                               
one  of  their  main  spokesperson  has  been  billionaire  Steve                                                               
Forbes.   He  offered his  belief that  the stance  of acting  as                                                               
though the  organization cares  about workers  seems disingenuous                                                               
to him.  He said:                                                                                                               
     Right   to  Work   laws  have   nothing   to  do   with                                                                    
     constitutional  freedoms or  personal liberties  as the                                                                    
     gentlemen just mentioned.   This legislation is nothing                                                                    
     more than a thinly veiled  attempt to allow free riders                                                                    
     to  get  all the  benefits  without  paying their  fair                                                                    
     share.    And   as  Representative  Coghill  questioned                                                                    
     accurately  and assessed  workers  who opt  not to  pay                                                                    
     dues.     They  basically  get  the   full  benefit  of                                                                    
     increases to  wages and  other fringe  benefits without                                                                    
     investing  in any  of the  costs  associated with  that                                                                    
     representation whatsoever.   And  that is flat  out un-                                                                    
     American.  Just  to summarize:  It's  already legal for                                                                    
     people to  refuse to  join a union  if they  choose and                                                                    
     refuse  to  pay  the  portion of  dues  that  might  go                                                                    
     towards the union's political activity.   Right to Work                                                                    
     laws hurts  union workers as well  as nonunion workers.                                                                    
     They  hurt  women  and minorities  more  severely  than                                                                    
     others.  And it would  hurt Alaska businesses.  And all                                                                    
     the credible  data show negative economic  impacts when                                                                    
     Right to  Work law is  passed.  Alaska  deserves better                                                                    
     and  I encourage  you  not  to pass  this  bill out  of                                                                    
     committee.  Thank you.                                                                                                     
4:52:26 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR OLSON emphasized that it is  not his intention to move this                                                               
bill until everyone has weighed in on this issue.                                                                               
MR. BELTRAMI suggested  there were many people who  still wish to                                                               
testify on this bill.                                                                                                           
4:53:06 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN  stated he has  never been a  union worker.                                                               
He asked if Mr. Beltrami was calling him un-American.                                                                           
MR. BELTRAMI  answered no.  He  offered his belief that  it would                                                               
be un-American to pass a law like this.                                                                                         
4:54:03 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN  related information  from the  United Food                                                               
and Commercial  Workers (UFCW).   He  stated that  the retirement                                                               
benefit  actuarial rate  has been  reduced to  zero percent  this                                                               
year.   That  means  the  plan does  not  provide any  additional                                                               
benefits after  March 9.  He  discussed the actuarial rates.   He                                                               
stated that the  actuarial rate relates to the stock  market.  He                                                               
offered that the point  he wants to make is that  no one wants to                                                               
see a reduction, but  the state moved from Tier I  to Tier IV for                                                               
the same reason.   He highlighted that everyone is  hurt during a                                                               
bad economy  and everyone  is forced to  make tough  decisions on                                                               
benefit rates and retirement amounts.                                                                                           
MR. BELTRAMI  said that it is  not uncommon for pension  funds to                                                               
have to adjust  their actuarial assumptions depending  on what is                                                               
happening in the market.  He  agreed that in good years they have                                                               
increased benefits.   The reason the economy has  declined is due                                                               
to  poor investments  made with  the American  taxpayers' pension                                                               
funds.  Wall  Street investors made bad decisions.   Now everyone                                                               
must bear  the brunt of those  decisions.  He opined  workers did                                                               
not have  enough voice  in the  matter.   He further  opined that                                                               
passing  HB 37  would exacerbate  the problem.   Defined  benefit                                                               
plans  have suffered,  but have  done  significantly better  than                                                               
defined contribution plans.  He  stated that nonunion members are                                                               
generally in a defined contribution plan.                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN offered his  belief with respect to pension                                                               
funds  that  there  are  no  guarantees  for  union  or  nonunion                                                               
4:57:41 PM                                                                                                                    
MIKE NOTAR,  President, Juneau  and Vicinity  Construction Trades                                                               
Council,  Inc., highlighted  his view  that HB  37 is  a proposed                                                               
abomination on the state and its  working people.  He opined that                                                               
the  bill was  not  filed  on behalf  of  working  families.   He                                                               
further  opined that  HB 37  would make  Alaska a  Right to  Work                                                               
state,  which is  an  appalling misnomer  since  workers have  an                                                               
inherent Right to Work.  He read from prepared notes:                                                                           
     It  should simply  be called  work for  less.   This is                                                                    
     just  union  busting  disguised with  a  nice  sounding                                                                    
     label.     These  laws  weaken  unions'   abilities  to                                                                    
     collectively  bargain  by  prohibiting  union  security                                                                    
     provisions  in  collective bargaining  agreements  both                                                                    
     approved  by   the  majority   of  employees   and  the                                                                    
     employer.    These  provisions provide  that  all  that                                                                    
     benefit from  a collective bargaining  agreement should                                                                    
     pay  their  fair  share  of the  costs  of  that  union                                                                    
     representation.  In the U.S.  Supreme Court decision in                                                                    
     1977, Abood  v. Detroit  Board of Education,  the court                                                                    
     said,  "A union  shop arrangement  has been  thought to                                                                    
     distribute  fairly  the  cost of  these  representative                                                                    
     activities among  those who benefit and  it counteracts                                                                    
     the incentive  that employees  might otherwise  have to                                                                    
     become free  riders.   To refuse  to contribute  to the                                                                    
     union    while    obtaining   benefits    from    union                                                                    
     representation   that   necessarily   accrue   to   all                                                                    
     employees."   Worst  of all  these laws  translate into                                                                    
     lower  wages and  benefits,  a  diminished standard  of                                                                    
     living, and  substandard legal protections  for workers                                                                    
     in those states with these  laws.  Let's remember, when                                                                    
     wages  fall,  so  do dollars  circulating  in  Alaska's                                                                    
     economy,  certainly  not  something we  presently  need                                                                    
     given the  state of our  national and  state economies.                                                                    
     Alaska  doesn't want  or need  this regressive  sort of                                                                    
     legislation.  HB 37 is  a dreadful public policy and is                                                                    
     not being  asked for by  working Alaskans.  I  urge you                                                                    
     all to vote against passing it out of committee.                                                                           
5:00:00 PM                                                                                                                    
TOM  CASHEN   stated  that  he   is  a  retired  member   of  the                                                               
International  Brotherhood of  Electrical  Workers  (IBEW) and  a                                                               
former  commissioner   of  the  Alaska  Department   of  Labor  &                                                               
Workforce  Development  (DLWD).    He related  that  he  spent  a                                                               
lifetime in labor  movement in Alaska.  He  informed members that                                                               
one of the  electrical industry training centers  in Anchorage is                                                               
named  "Tom Cashen  Electrical Training  Center".   He said  he'd                                                               
like to add his name to the list of people who oppose HB 37.                                                                    
5:01:04 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  BUCH thanked  Mr. Cashen  for his  former service                                                               
and his endeavor on behalf of workers across the state.                                                                         
5:01:41 PM                                                                                                                    
The committee took an at-ease from 5:01 p.m. to 5:02 p.m.                                                                       
5:02:28 PM                                                                                                                    
ED FLANAGAN stated  that he also is a former  Commissioner of the                                                               
Alaska Department  of Labor &  Workforce Development (DLWD).   He                                                               
joined his  colleagues in opposing  HB 37.   He recalled  that he                                                               
was the  DOL commissioner in  2000 when  the first Right  to Work                                                               
bill was introduced.   He characterized it as a  sad day when the                                                               
bill  had  a hearing  before  the  House State  Affairs  Standing                                                               
Committee.   He  also  recalled  that the  issue  came up  during                                                               
Alaska's Constitutional  Convention.  He offered  his belief that                                                               
Representative Coghill  would have  been one of  40 who  voted to                                                               
oppose  the issue  at  that time.   He  offered  his belief  that                                                               
members decided that Right to  Work legislation is the last thing                                                               
Alaska   needed.     He  further   opined  that   the  Republican                                                               
legislators "ran  the punk out  of the  room."  He  also recalled                                                               
eloquent  testimony given  today  to provide  reasons to  support                                                               
union workers.   He asked Chair Olson to "get  everybody heard on                                                               
this, Mr. Chairman."                                                                                                            
5:04:39 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR OLSON reassured  Mr. Flanagan that the  committee would not                                                               
be taking  action on HB  37 until everyone  who wants to  have an                                                               
opportunity to can weigh in on the bill.                                                                                        
5:05:07 PM                                                                                                                    
RICK CANOY, Business Representative,  Teamsters Local 959, stated                                                               
that he  came to Alaska  from a Right to  Work state and  some of                                                               
his family members  have endured hardships due  to misguided laws                                                               
such as  the Right to Work  bills.  He recalled  testimony on how                                                               
unions  and  non-unions  are  impacted by  Right  to  Work  bills                                                               
including reduction  in wages  and benefits.   He  mentioned this                                                               
issue compounds  the difficulties for unions  to negotiate strong                                                               
agreements.   Alaska  faces uncertain  economics,  and he  cannot                                                               
think of  a worse time to  consider such an ill  conceived notion                                                               
as  HB 37,  he  said.   Union  workers  in  Alaska have  provided                                                               
stellar labor and services for Alaskans.   He also said he thinks                                                               
that this  is quite  a troublesome payback  to attempt  to derail                                                               
the  faithful workers  that are  represented  by organized  labor                                                               
organizations in  this state.   He implored  members to  not pass                                                               
this bill out of  committee.  "Kill this, and maybe  do this as a                                                               
show  of gratitude.   And  thanks to  those who  preceded us  and                                                               
those who  are going to  work with us side  by side now  and will                                                               
follow us  in the  future.   Give us the  opportunity to  get the                                                               
best  for our  people that  they may  give the  best back  to the                                                               
state," he said.                                                                                                                
5:07:28 PM                                                                                                                    
RICK  TRANI,  Executive  Director,  Teamsters  Local  959,  urged                                                               
members to vote in opposition to  HB 37.  He speculated that this                                                               
bill would subvert the collective  bargaining process.  He opined                                                               
that  workplaces offering  union wages  have better  health care,                                                               
wages, benefits,  and work rules.   He argued that unions  have a                                                               
more productive workforce  and are held to that  standard.  Thus,                                                               
unions  ask for  better wages  and  conditions.   He opined  that                                                               
unions have negotiated better terms  of employment contract after                                                               
contract  and  these  gains  are  solidified  and  passed  on  to                                                               
generations of  successive employees.  The  collective bargaining                                                               
process  which  secures  benefits  and wages  is  dependent  upon                                                               
employees  to participate  as a  whole, and  added that  to allow                                                               
other employees  to secure these  gains without  participating in                                                               
the process defeats  the inherent purpose of  having a bargaining                                                               
unit.   He expressed concern that  this HB 37 is  even before the                                                               
legislature.    He  offered  his belief  in  the  National  Labor                                                               
Relations  Act  and  the  Public Employee  Relations  Act.    The                                                               
federal acts  do not  currently need amendments  or changes.   He                                                               
urged  the legislature  to not  needlessly  amend the  laws.   He                                                               
stated that HB  37 would make the existing  bargaining units less                                                               
secure in  their position,  weaken safe  work place  rules, lower                                                               
wages   and    benefits,   and   tilt   the    balance   of   the                                                               
employer/employee  relationship unfavorably  with respect  to the                                                               
employee.  He urged Chair Olson  not to limit public testimony on                                                               
HB 37  to only two  minutes as  the public's testimony  should be                                                               
heard in full.  He urged members to vote no on HB 37.                                                                           
5:09:23 PM                                                                                                                    
JED  WHITTAKER  speculated that  about  40  people are  currently                                                               
present who will  probably not have chance to testify  today.  He                                                               
opined that the Right to Work law  is a red herring that poses as                                                               
freedom for the  individual but in reality is  designed to weaken                                                               
unions, collective  bargaining, and keep  wages low.   He offered                                                               
his belief  that Right  to Work  states have  a lower  per capita                                                               
income and  a higher  rate of  poverty.   He further  opined that                                                               
unions  brought  America the  middle  class  through the  minimum                                                               
wage, the 40 hour work  week, overtime pay, health care benefits,                                                               
pension  plans, and  worker  safety.   He  noted  that a  healthy                                                               
economy is one  in which people have money in  their pockets.  He                                                               
stated that  Henry Ford  understood this  and initially  Mr. Ford                                                               
paid his  employees $5 per  hour, which  was an unheard  of wage.                                                               
He stated that Mr. Ford was asked  why and he said, "Who will buy                                                               
my cars?"   He  asserted that Republicans  in the  Congress blame                                                               
the unions for the problems.   However, he recalled an article in                                                               
a recent  Wall Street Journal  which indicates the  money General                                                               
Motors  and  Ford has  invested  in  their companies  could  have                                                               
bought  Toyota,  Honda, and  Nissan  outright.   He  offered  his                                                               
belief  that  poor  management  and  poor  asset  allocation  has                                                               
happened,  but instead  of blaming  management, some  legislators                                                               
blame the unions.   He said, "I don't  understand why Republicans                                                               
hate  unions.     I'm  here   to  tell  you  unions   don't  hate                                                               
Republicans.  My  union, the Laborers Local  341 endorsed Senator                                                               
[Ted] Stevens  and Representative Don  Young."  He  urged members                                                               
to defeat HB 37.                                                                                                                
5:11:24 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN  clarified that  he does not  hold anything                                                               
against unions.   He assured members he would look  at HB 37 with                                                               
an open mind.  He reiterated that he is not anti-union.                                                                         
5:11:43 PM                                                                                                                    
LARRY BENSON,  President, American  Postal Workers  Union, stated                                                               
that the  U.S. is  in a profound  crisis.  He  opined that  HB 37                                                               
lends to  a further weakening  of the economy by  providing lower                                                               
wages, jobs  without benefits,  and an  inability for  workers to                                                               
sustain a middle class living standard.  He said:                                                                               
     For   thirty  years   America's  economic   elites  and                                                                    
     political  allies such  as the  national Right  to Work                                                                    
     Group  have pursued  polices designed  to produce  this                                                                    
     low-wage  level economy  just as  HB 37  does.   At the                                                                    
     same time, policy makers have  sought with some success                                                                    
     to  maintain high  levels of  consumer spending.   Now,                                                                    
     the  creation of  this  low-wage high-spending  economy                                                                    
     has systematically destroyed the  various wages that we                                                                    
     individually   and   collectively  save   and   invest.                                                                    
     Instead of an income driven  economy, we have become an                                                                    
     economy  driven  by  asset bubbles  fueled  with  cheap                                                                    
     debt.    And  the ultimate  un-sustainability  of  this                                                                    
     strategy has  brought us  to our  current crisis.   The                                                                    
     assault on  good jobs has  proceeded on two  fronts, in                                                                    
     the purely  domestic realm starting with  the effective                                                                    
     abolition of  the right to  form unions in  the private                                                                    
     sector; both  the formal  and informal  structures that                                                                    
     encourage the  growth of  worker bargaining  power have                                                                    
     been dismantled.   HB 37 will further  bring about this                                                                    
     dismantling.   This  bill does  nothing  to improve  an                                                                    
     economy  driven by  wages  but  instead drives  further                                                                    
     into  the  abyss an  economy  driven  by asset  bubbles                                                                    
     fueled with cheap debt again,  and will reduce Alaska's                                                                    
     wages  and jeopardize  employer  provided health  care.                                                                    
     You know, "North to the  Future" is Alaska's motto.  HB
     37 does not reflect our  true Alaskan spirit.  It would                                                                    
     be an  insult to pass a  bill like this.   The American                                                                    
     Postal Workers  Union is opposed  to this bill  for the                                                                    
     reasons I've  stated and I  urge you to oppose  this so                                                                    
     called Right to Work bill.                                                                                                 
5:13:59 PM                                                                                                                    
TIM MORGAN, Business Representative,  Teamsters Local 959, stated                                                               
that the groups  he represents voted for  union representation by                                                               
a  majority vote,  similar to  how legislators  are elected  by a                                                               
majority vote.   He opined that  the Right to Work  bill would be                                                               
like saying  if a person  did not vote  in support of  the union,                                                               
that the person does not need  to pay their dues to support their                                                               
wages.  He asked  members to vote against HB 37.   He offered his                                                               
belief that his  children and grandchildren would not  be able to                                                               
make a decent living in a Right to Work state.                                                                                  
5:15:20 PM                                                                                                                    
DENNIS  KNEBLE stated  that  he is  a  member of  the  IBEW.   He                                                               
related a  scenario as a  comparison between  a small town  and a                                                               
union such that when candidate wins  by a majority, the taxes are                                                               
paid by all residents, regardless  of whether taxes are increased                                                               
or decreased.   He compared this to how a  union works, such that                                                               
when  its   members  vote  to   pass  a  contract,   everyone  is                                                               
represented regardless  of their position.   He asked  members to                                                               
oppose the Right to Work bill.                                                                                                  
5:16:29 PM                                                                                                                    
SCOTT SAMMONS  stated that he is  a member of the  Laborers Local                                                               
341.  He related  that he moved to Alaska six  years ago from his                                                               
home state  of Arkansas  to seek  a better  living than  he could                                                               
provide for his  family when living in Arkansas.   He offered his                                                               
belief that  Arkansas, which is a  Right to Work state,  sets the                                                               
prevailing wage on  a Davis-Bacon job for  a licensed electrician                                                               
at  $13.85.   If he  earned  $2 over  the $6.25  minimum wage  in                                                               
Arkansas, he would  be considered doing very well.   He indicated                                                               
that  he researched  Right to  Work  states and  found that  most                                                               
states  adopted Right  to  Work  laws 50  years  ago when  Alaska                                                               
decided not  to do so.   Alaska avoided  Right to Work  which has                                                               
served  the  state well,  and  Alaska  has prospered.    Alaska's                                                               
unions  provide  workers  with excellent  training,  health,  and                                                               
retirement benefits,  which also  provide employers  the benefits                                                               
of a  highly skilled work  force.  Furthermore, employers  need a                                                               
well-trained work force since most people  do not work in one job                                                               
from  high school  or college  graduation until  retirement.   He                                                               
mentioned that  union jobs offer  easy transferability  of earned                                                               
benefits to  multiple companies.   He emphasized  the need  for a                                                               
strong resident work force.   He opined that strong unions create                                                               
a  level  playing field  by  setting  the standards  of  employee                                                               
compensation for  union and nonunion  companies alike.   He said,                                                               
"Without   a  strong   voice  to   demand   fair  treatment   and                                                               
compensation  for  workers,  Alaska  could  easily  sink  to  the                                                               
standard  of  living  enjoyed  in  Arkansas,  Mississippi,  South                                                               
Carolina, etc. etc.  Thank you very much."                                                                                      
5:19:03 PM                                                                                                                    
RON MCPHETERS,  President, Laborers Local 341,  explained that he                                                               
represents over 2,200 members in  Southcentral Alaska.  He opined                                                               
that  the Right  to Work  bill  would hurt  the state's  economy,                                                               
degrade workers' rights, inflate  health care costs, and endanger                                                               
employees.  The real issue for  him is that the legislature would                                                               
even consider  this bill,  since it  is such  a radical  bill, he                                                               
said.    He  offered  his  belief  that  the  legislature  has  a                                                               
responsibility  to train  more Alaskans.   He  asked, "Why  would                                                               
this  committee want  to  take out  the  organizations that  will                                                               
assure  true  Alaskan hire?    This  is  not  only true  for  the                                                               
laborers, but is  true for all unions in the  state."  He offered                                                               
his  belief  that "Right  to  Work  for less"  laws  deliberately                                                               
intend to financially  cripple unions.  Without  dues that unions                                                               
will  not have  any  source of  income, which  would  lead to  an                                                               
unrepresented work  force that would  earn less, spend  less, and                                                               
hurt Alaska's economy.  Without  a union, workers are less likely                                                               
to have health  care insurance and the  top-notch training earned                                                               
through apprenticeship programs.   "Without these added benefits,                                                               
who  do you  think  will be  having to  pay  for these  uninsured                                                               
visits to the  hospital," he asked.  He urged  members to vote no                                                               
on HB 37.                                                                                                                       
5:20:51 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  OLSON offered  that the  legislature  considers about  500                                                               
bills each session and he disagrees  with about half of them.  He                                                               
related that  the committee spends  time hearing many  bills that                                                               
many members do  not support.  One  of the side effects  of a 90-                                                               
day session  is that it limits  the amount public testimony.   He                                                               
apologized  to  the public  for  the  shortened public  testimony                                                               
time.  He stated that everyone who  wishes to speak on HB 37 will                                                               
have an opportunity to provide testimony.                                                                                       
5:22:05 PM                                                                                                                    
SERGIO  ACUNA stated  that he  is a  union laborer  and spoke  in                                                               
opposition to HB  37.  He recalled that 22  states have the Right                                                               
to Work provision.  He said,  "Alaska does not need to become the                                                               
23rd.  I  have personally has struggled with  the consequences of                                                               
Right to Work law in other states  such as Texas and Nevada."  He                                                               
opined that Right to Work  states have lower wages, disrespectful                                                               
conditions, discrimination,  and unsafe  working conditions.   He                                                               
offered that  his work  is important  and he  takes pride  in his                                                               
work.   He stated  that he  needs to  be able  to earn  enough to                                                               
provide for more than just  "beans and tortillas."  Alaskans need                                                               
decent wages, fair and safe  working conditions.  He concluded by                                                               
stating "Alaska  does not need  Right to  Work for less  law," he                                                               
5:23:33 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR OLSON announced that HB 37 would be held over for further                                                                 
5:23:47 PM                                                                                                                    

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
01_HB207_version_A.pdf HL&C 4/13/2009 3:15:00 PM
HB 207
02_HB207_Sponsor_Statement.pdf HL&C 4/13/2009 3:15:00 PM
HB 207
03_HB207_Fiscal_Note-1-1-041009-DFG-N.pdf HL&C 4/13/2009 3:15:00 PM
HB 207
04_HB207_Fiscal_Note-2-1-041009-LWF-Y.pdf HL&C 4/13/2009 3:15:00 PM
HB 207