Legislature(2003 - 2004)

05/13/2003 02:20 PM Senate L&C

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
          SCR 14-40-HOUR WORK WEEK FOR STATE EMPLOYEES                                                                      
CHAIR BUNDE announced SCR 40 to  be up for consideration. He said                                                               
that state  workers negotiated shorter  hours when the  state was                                                               
in different  fiscal circumstances and  that he had  heard unfair                                                               
criticism of state workers. He  frequently asks people to address                                                               
the  realities  of our  fiscal  situation  and to  also  consider                                                               
paying a  state income  tax. The  answer he gets  is that  no one                                                               
wants to  pay taxes until  state workers start working  a 40-hour                                                               
workweek. This resolution encourages  the administration in their                                                               
negotiations  with the  various  public employee  unions to  move                                                               
toward  a   40-hour  workweek.   He  maintained,   "It  increases                                                               
productivity  and, I  think, increases  public confidence  in the                                                               
efficiency of state employees."                                                                                                 
MR. DON ETHERIDGE, AFL-CIO, said  the AFL-CIO has negotiated this                                                               
issue  several  times  in  the  past.  It  was  ratified  by  the                                                               
memberships but rejected by the  legislature nine years ago. This                                                               
administration  asked the  unions  if they  were interested,  and                                                               
they  were,  but  then  the   administration  said  they  weren't                                                               
interested any more. The reason  they are on a 37.5-hour workweek                                                               
is  because hours  were reduced  years ago  as an  additional pay                                                               
increase. He explained:                                                                                                         
     Our memberships and our leaderships  feel that if we do                                                                    
     go back to  the 40-hour workweek, we  should be looking                                                                    
     at being  paid for those  additional hours that  we put                                                                    
     in, which  would be only  right. If you're  expected to                                                                    
     work more, you should be paid for those hours.                                                                             
     In the  past, the contracts  that we did  negotiate, we                                                                    
     negotiated a straight 40 hours  at the current rate, no                                                                    
     increases  for I  think the  one Local  71, did.  There                                                                    
     were no  increases for a  three-year period if  we went                                                                    
        on the 40-hour workweek and that was one of the                                                                         
     contracts that was rejected....                                                                                            
SENATOR STEVENS  asked how  many labor  unions he  represents and                                                               
how many the state is dealing with.                                                                                             
MR. ETHERIDGE replied  that the state bargaining unit  is made up                                                               
of 12 units. Some  of them are at the table  right now and others                                                               
will be  negotiating later this  year. Not  all 12 are  under the                                                               
37.5-hour workweek. Some work 40  hours; some work 80 hours, such                                                               
as the marine units.                                                                                                            
SENATOR  FRENCH  asked if  some  employees  work for  a  straight                                                               
hourly wage and submit a time sheet for hours worked.                                                                           
MR. ETHERIDGE replied yes, the  majority of employees are in that                                                               
SENATOR FRENCH asked  if the work hours are increased  to 40, the                                                               
employees would just get that  many more hours on their paychecks                                                               
every two weeks.                                                                                                                
MR. ETHERIDGE said that is right.                                                                                               
SENATOR FRENCH asked if some  employees are salaried but also get                                                               
MR. ETHERIDGE replied  that some are, but he  isn't familiar with                                                               
which ones.                                                                                                                     
SENATOR FRENCH said it sounds  like most employees are hourly and                                                               
salaried with no overtime.                                                                                                      
MR. ETHERIDGE agreed.                                                                                                           
SENATOR  STEVENS  asked if  overtime  is  paid for  hours  worked                                                               
between 37.5 and 40 hours.                                                                                                      
MR. ETHERIDGE replied that some are,  but the majority work up to                                                               
40 hours at the straight time rate.                                                                                             
SENATOR  SEEKINS moved  to  pass  SCR 14  out  of committee  with                                                               
individual  recommendations and  its attached  zero fiscal  note.                                                               
SENATOR  STEVENS, DAVIS,  SEEKINS  and BUNDE  voted yea;  SENATOR                                                               
FRENCH voted nay; and SCR 14 moved out of committee.                                                                            

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