Provides that any records indicating the proposed terms of a collective bargaining agreement be made available to the public immediately when such records are sent to members of a public employee union for their approval or rejection; further provides that copies of all proposed school district collective bargaining agreements, employment contracts or amendments to such contracts be placed on the school district website, if such website exists, and within the local public libraries and offices of such school districts at least one week prior to approval or rejection of such proposed public employee union or school district proposed collective bargaining agreements or action taken to approve other employment contracts or amendments thereto.
BILL NUMBER: S7350A
TITLE OF BILL :
An act to amend the public officers law, in relation to certain
collective bargaining agreements
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL :
Amend the Public Officers Law to provide that any record indicating
the proposed terms of a collective bargaining agreement be made
available to the public.
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS :
Paragraph (c) of subdivision 2 of section 87 of the public Officers
Law, as added by Chapter 933 of the Laws of 1997, is amended to read
(c) if disclosed would impair present or imminent contract awards or
collective bargaining negotiations, provided however, (i) that records
indicating the proposed terms of a collective bargaining agreement
together with facts describing the economic and any new costs
attributable to such agreement, contract, or amendment shall be made
available to the public immediately following approval of such
proposed terms by a public employee union, and at least two weeks
prior to the approval or rejection of such proposed terms by the
public employer, (ii) that copies of all proposed public employee,
school district collective bargaining agreements, employment
contracts, or amendments to such contracts together with facts
describing the economic and any new costs attributable to such
agreement, contract, or amendment be placed on the school district
website, if such website exists, and within the local public libraries
and offices of such districts at least two weeks prior to approval or
rejection of such proposed public employee union or school district
proposed public employee union or school district proposed collective
bargaining agreements or action taken to approve other employment
contracts or amendments.
The public's right to know and hold elected officials accountable is
hallmark of American democracy. It has long been a titan enshrined in
state law and practice. The New York State Legislature enacted the
public Officers Law giving its citizens clearly defined Freedom of
Information rights, which have been expanded over the last decade.
Technological progress has provided even more opportunities for
citizen oversight, particularly with the Internet. For example,
Attorney General Cuomo and Comptroller DiNapoli recently created
websites, www.sunlightny.com, and www.tmenbooknewyork.com allowing
citizens unprecedented access to legislator activities and government
financial workings. In 2009, Governor Paterson created a website,
www.economicrecovery.ny.gov so that citizens can track state projects
that are funded from the 2009 Federal Stimulus Package.
There are, however, significant exceptions to the kind of information
the public can acquire, one of which is school district collective
bargaining agreements. Collective bargaining agreements, covering
salaries and benefits of all school district personnel and public
employees, are made public after the contracts have been ratified.
The magnitude of collective bargaining contracts cannot be overstated.
School taxes represent 70-80% of a homeowner's property tax bill, and
school teacher, administrative, and support staff salaries and
benefits represent about 80% of school costs. It is clear that
homeowners then are largely paying taxes to fund school staff salaries
As the local property tax burden increases year after year, taxpayers
are demanding information regarding collective bargaining agreements.
Newspaper editorials throughout the State are in the opinion that
school district residents deserve to know of collective bargaining
terms so they can comment, discuss and debate them in a transparent
and open manner. A Suffolk County Court Special Jury, in its
investigation of fiscal irregularities in the Suffolk County school
districts, recommended that taxpayers be given ample opportunity to
review proposed school district employment contracts or amendments to
contracts and hold discussions with local school board members prior
to adoption (Grand Jury Report CPI-190.85 (1) (c), September 19,
Eleven states have collective bargaining that is accessible and open
to the public. Some have opened up the process in its entirety, some
partially, some in person, and some through session minutes. Other
states such as Washington, Michigan and Wisconsin are exploring the
possibility. It is time for New York, a state that prides itself on
government access and transparency, to open up school district
collective bargaining to the taxpayers who fund the contracts. Civil
Service Law, Article 14, Section 201 sets forth definitions of key
terms in the legislation.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY :
This is new legislation.
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS :
The fiscal implications will be minimal to none, since school
districts and municipalities have operating websites and established
public outreach systems.
EFFECTIVE DATE :
This act shall take effect immediately.
Open Legislation comments facilitate discussion of New York State legislation. All comments are subject to moderation. Comments deemed off-topic, commercial, campaign-related, self-promotional; or that contain profanity or hate speech; or that link to sites outside of the nysenate.gov domain are not permitted, and will not be published. Comment moderation is generally performed Monday through Friday.
By contributing or voting you agree to the Terms of Participation and verify you are over 13.