On 1/24/12 the NH House Labor Committee held public hearings on HB 1427. This is a very bad bill in my opinion and definitely need to to be ITL in committee. (See previous posts on HB1427.) This is just one of the anti-labor bills going through the House Labor Committee. HB 1427 sponsored by Rep Neal Kirk (Hills 7) talks privatizing or outsource jobs currently covered by public unions. Right now it is required that the public employer in good faith the impact of such a decision would have on the mandatory subjects of bargaining for the employees can be deemed an Unfair Labor Practice if it is violated. This bill would change all of that. It would allow the public employer to take jobs out of the community and sell them off to other companies many of which are from out of state. This has become a very hot button issue with the possibility of outsourcing the jobs of correction officers. This is also a way for the public employers to legally break the contracts they have with the Unions, leaving the current workers out of a job.
One of the people who spoke against this bill was American Federation of Teachers (NH) President Laura Hainey. She was kind enough to provide her written testimony on this bill and why AFT-NH opposes this bill (below). I do not know about you, but I have never heard of a “outsourced” job where the workers benefited. Outsourced jobs usually means same job, less pay!
Re: AFT-NH Testimony In Opposition to HB 1427 (Outsourcing)
(editors note, due to length of testimony parts have been omitted)
Dear Honorable Members of the Committee,
On the municipal side, we represent employees who plow roads, serve as town mechanics, perform clerical functions, and other various municipal functions like animal control officer, traffic light specialist, parking meter attendants, dispatchers, police officers, librarians and wastewater treatment attendants, to name a few.
On the school side, in addition to teachers we represent other types of positions such as guidance counselors, school psychologists, librarians, and occupational, speech and physical therapists. We also represent support staff positions that deliver custodial and cafeteria services.
We have had numerous opportunities over the years to address the issue of privatization of services or outsourcing with public employers. In all of these cases, we have been able to work with the employer and have good faith discussions and negotiations about their inclination to consider outsourcing. Sometimes outsourcing has happened and sometimes we have found an alternative path that provides a win-win for both parties.
This process is not just for the benefit of the employees but also a broader discussion about the delivery of these services and the quality of these services. Make no mistake about it—AFT-NH does not believe that outsourcing of this work produces a better product for the public. That is not why we are here today although the bill’s sponsor has apparently prejudged that outsourcing is the way to go and that the employees should not be part of the discussion whatsoever.
Our locals believe in problem solving and collaboration but we do not believe that an arbitrary decision to parcel out community jobs to often times an out of state employer is in the best interests of any of our communities. Sometimes the necessity for a public employer to stop, reflect, and receive input from those employees who have done the work for years and years serves a very valuable purpose. A knee jerk reaction to outsource without good faith discussion and negotiation with the union can lead to dire and often times unintended consequences for employees and the community. One specific example of harm to employees would be automatic exclusion from the NH Retirement System. Negotiation and collaboration provides for a discussion of how that can be resolved.
When I was President of the Rochester Federation of Teachers, we had the occasion to organize the cafeteria workers. Shortly after we organized these employees, the School Board decided they wanted to outsource. Well in Rochester, the district had previously contracted out custodial services and it soon became apparent that it was a disaster and they reverted back. Nevertheless, the damage had been done to employees and to our schools.
We did not want to see the same thing happen to our café program. To make a long story short, we found a middle ground position. The School Board was able to contract out the “management” of the cafeteria program to provide for efficiencies of purchasing in bulk, use of company resources such as menus, working with federal grants, and maintenance and/or replacement of equipment. Our cafeteria ladies remained school district employees. This local union has negotiated a number of collective bargaining agreements since that time and this issue has never surfaced again.
This is not the only situation where we have addressed outsourcing but we have resolved all of those issues successfully with our employers through the negotiations process. In fact, on one occasion our support staff members in Raymond heard “rumors” that the school board might be considering outsourcing custodial and/or cafeteria services. Our local union decided the voters should have a say, so they submitted a non-binding petition to be presented during the Senate Bill Two town meeting. Well, the voters overwhelmingly rejected the notion of outsourcing these school jobs. Another example where on the local level, the issue was handled quite well.
We believe this bill unnecessarily reaches into one aspect of the sort of topics that are discussed between a public employer and the local union. We do the hard work to find solutions. This bill does not reflect the good work done by both employers and unions throughout the state. Let’s start focusing on the positive!
I would note that the sponsor of this bill never appeared before the study committee to discuss this issue.
Therefore, I ask that the Committee recommend this bill as Inexpedient to Legislate.