With the start of the 2011 legislative session in New Hampshire yesterday, Senator Bob Odell introduced a bill to eliminate the automatic extension of public employee contracts known as the evergreen clause.
“This is an issue of local control. The legislature should not be mandating the terms of these contracts and certainly should not be forcing the costs of ongoing pay and benefit increases upon the counties, municipalities and school districts,” Odell (R-Lempster) said.
Current state law, as enacted in 2008, mandates the continuation of existing contract terms, including certain pay increases, between the expiration of an existing contract and the adoption of a new agreement. Under Senate Bill 1, collective bargaining agreements could still include Evergreen clauses if agreed to during contract negotiations.
For the Concord Monitor, Shira Schoenberg reported this week: “The evergreen law, passed by a Democratic-led Legislature in 2008, states that public employees working without a contract will continue to receive increases in pay based on years of experience, often referred to as ‘step increases.'”
The Monitor article goes on to say: “Opponents of the evergreen law say it leaves voters paying for costs that they never approved and takes away an incentive for employees to negotiate a new contract…..But supporters of the law say it evens the playing field for public employees who are not allowed to strike and have little bargaining leverage. They say it’s an issue of fairness and of paying employees what they were promised.”
Senate Bill 1 awaits a hearing before the Senate Public and Municipal Affairs Committee. It was one of several bills “introduced” at the Senate’s Convening Day on Wednesday, a process that allows new bills to begin the legislative process.