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Pennsylvania House of Representatives
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House of Representatives
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session


Posted: February 10, 2023 04:04 PM
From: Representative Dan L. Miller and Rep. Dan K. Williams
To: All House members
Subject: Union workers need contracts: first contract interest arbitration
Workers voting for union representation is only one step towards concretizing improvements in working conditions. In order to win protections and workplace improvements, workers and management must come to an agreement on a first contract. However, delaying the process of negotiating a first contract is a common union-busting tactic, used to provoke workers into thinking that unions are ineffectual. In the public sector, employees’ right to strike and employers’ right to lockout are diminished, leaving both parties with few means of influence if bargaining stalls out. Our legislation proposes the alternative of interest arbitration as a way for the parties to reach a first agreement, modeled after an already-existing process for Pennsylvania police and firefighters to resolve contract negotiations (See 43 Pa. Stat. § 217.4).
We propose amending the Public Employe Relations Act to allow for a limited form of interest arbitration that applies only to first contracts:
1.            After a new union is certified by the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board and requests to begin contract negotiations, if the parties cannot reach an agreement in 180 days, either party may request a board of arbitration.
2.            The board of arbitration will be a panel of three: one chosen by the union; one chosen by the employer; and the third chosen by both. The arbitration panel will choose between the last offer each party made. The arbitrated contract would last two years, after which any subsequent collective bargaining would follow usual procedures.
Interest arbitration is not uncommon in public sector law across the country. The following states have some form of interest arbitration for at least some public employees: Alaska, Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.
This legislation will help parties reach collective-bargaining agreements after a union is certified, rather than allowing negotiations to stall out and leave workers without a voice. After the first contract, labor and management will have had time to develop a collective-bargaining relationship, with the hopes that subsequent agreements are more easily reached.
Please join us in co-sponsoring this legislation. 

Introduced as HB946