February 25, 2004
"Our objective is to bring Alaska's public employee bargaining laws into conformity with those of other states and with federal law," said Commissioner of Administration Mike Miller. "We think it is entirely appropriate that an employee who moves up the ladder and takes a job as a senior manager will be paid commensurate with that new responsibility, but should no longer be covered by a union. We are especially concerned that people we, as a state, hire to conduct our confidential bargaining for the public with the public employees' unions, should not also be members of those unions. That is extremely bad public policy and creates an undeniable conflict of interest."
The bills create a career service classified management level position, below the level of political appointees. This new position will give the state a more professional management system and contribute to continuity in carrying out public policy from one administration to the next.
Alaska was one of the first states to allow public employees to collectively bargain when it adopted the Alaska Public Employment Relations Act (PERA) in 1972. One of the major differences between the National Labor Relations Act and PERA is that confidential, managerial, and supervisory employees are not allowed under the national act to be members of unions because it creates a conflict of interest to have them bargaining for the employer as union members. At the bargaining table, the state's agents or representatives must be loyal to the state, not to the unions with which they are bargaining.
The legislation (HB 518 and
SB 352) would remove confidential and managerial employees from
PERA's definition of "public employee." Language in
the bills that creates the exclusions is taken largely from federal
law, and is based on private sector case law.
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