State senators have voted along party lines to allow more public scrutiny of collective bargaining agreements with Pennsylvania’s public workers.
The passage of two separate proposals followed a heated debate Wednesday. Republican backers say making labor deals more transparent serves taxpayers, while Democrats found themselves in the position of arguing against sunlight – saying that, in this case, keeping collective bargaining agreements out of the public eye helps secure fair wages and benefits for workers.
“Here’s where the real fear is: The taxpayers will see it, and they’re not going to like it,” said Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson. “Because we’re going to have to say to taxpayers, you’re going to have to pay more.”
One bill would order a cost analysis of every proposed bargaining agreement two weeks before it is finalized. Another measure would make state and local governments publish or post online their proposed agreements with workers. Contracts never made public would be nullified.
The fast-tracked measures were sparked, reportedly, by lawmakers’ unsuccessful attempts to learn the costs of the collective bargaining agreements being negotiated between the Wolf administration and public-sector unions. Wolf received major support from public-sector unions during his campaign.
The bills now head to the House, also controlled by Republicans.