New PA bills would include more transparency for ‘closed-door’ salary negotiations

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Would you pay a bill before you even saw it?  Some say that’s exactly what taxpayers are doing when it comes to collective bargaining contracts.

Now, some lawmakers are looking to bring more transparency to those closed-door deals.

Right now, the salaries of government and public school employees are negotiated between government leaders and union representatives behind closed doors; some lawmakers now looking to change that. 

Senator Patrick Stefano says, “The total compensation package is more than $100,000 per state employee.”

That’s 35% more than the average compensation for employees in the private sector.  Now, as new state employee contracts are negotiated, Nathan Benefield with the conservative ‘Commonwealth Foundation’ is calling on more transparency in the process.

Benefield says, “They negotiate these behind closed doors, between Governor Wolf and union leaders. And that’s never made transparent until the contracts are finally agreed to.”

Stefano says, “People are on the hook for what these contracts are assigned for, without even knowing what they’ve paid for.”

Stefano plans to re-introduce a bill this session requiring those collective bargaining agreements to be made public two weeks before they’re signed so you can weigh in. “There’s not a cable bill that you get, that you wouldn’t be very upset if it came in very high, and you didn’t get a chance to dispute it, or talk about it, or any of the other bills that you get.”

Another bill would subject contract negotiations to Pennsylvania’s ‘Sunshine Act’ and ‘Right to Know’ law.  Some argue making those contracts public could hurt negotiations, making it difficult to change the terms if the contract is already posted.

Nathan Benefield, though, has high hopes for these bills… if they get passed.

“We support those proposals to make this process much more transparent to the taxpayers who are going to have to foot the bill at the end of the day.”

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