Council Democrats Support Exempting Union Contracts from Financial Disclosure Law

by Phillip M. Bailey on September 28, 2011

An ordinance supported by the majority of Louisville Metro Council Democrats would exempt the cost of contracts between public workers and Metro Government from being subject to mandatory reports.

Seven years ago, the council passed legislation requiring the submission of a financial impact statement with any ordinance or resolution that spends taxpayer dollars. The original bill received bi-partisan support and was drafted to provide supporting documentation for any city expenditure, adding it was important to “fully inform the community”  about how public funds were spent.

The only exemption to the law is the city’s annual budget, but over a dozen council Democrats are supporting an amendment to exempt collective bargaining agreements, which would bar the cost details of union contracts from being publicly disclosed during negotiations.

Councilman David James, D-6, a former Louisville FOP president, says information about the contracts should be kept confidential because its disclosure could undermine negotiations between Mayor Greg Fischer and Metro employees.

“When contracts are negotiated with labor there’s a good faith negotiation that takes place, but if you have the financial impact statement out there it takes good faith and throws it right out the window,” he says. “The community can be fully informed by simply going and lookin at the contract. The issue is creating a financial statement, which takes away the executive branches and the labor unions ability to negotiate in good faith. And that hurts working families in our community.”

Generally, a financial impact statement is a one-page document that describes and assesses the economic affect an expenditure or project would have on the city.  It often contains

The amendment to exempt collective bargaining agreements from that law has the support of 14 Democratic lawmakers and local union leaders, many who have criticized GOP lawmakers, specifically Councilman Jerry Miller, R-19, who has  questioned the union negotiating process over the past several months.

Democrats says Republican lawmakers are probing the process in an attempt to discredit unions as part of the larger “War on Workers”, but  council Republicans say they are concerned about cost to the taxpayers and the overall lack of transparency.

Miller says the legislation runs counter to the council’s attempt sto improve accountability and fiscal responsibility over the past several years.

“The so-called ‘War on Workers’ is actually manifesting itself in Louisville as a ‘War on Transparency’ initiated by the union bosses,” he says. “We don’t get the contract until after the negotiations are complete, so for anyone to allege that this is happening during negotiations to hurt good faith is just not being truthful at all. This is clearly a payback to the union leaders for past help in campaigns. They are afraid of the taxpayers knowing how much of an increase they’re getting.”

 

 

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