As the 2021 Legislature continues, several really bad bills are on the verge of passage, and more are being introduced every day.
Of most immediate concern is House Bill 2011, which will, among other things, eliminate the 1,000-hour limit for part-time employees to be exempt from civil service protections. That clause was requested by the Department of Natural Resources, delegates were told today (Friday).
The bill has passed the House of Delegates on a 99-0 vote, and passed the 2nd Reading, with an amendment. The 3rd Reading, passage stage, likely will come Monday.
This bill almost guarantees abuses by state agencies. Workers may be employed at nearly full time, or temporarily at full-time hours, and those workers will be ineligible for benefits and the ability to file grievances.
Another bad bill, HB 2009, is being introduced to the Senate floor today. It will make it more difficult to apply for the dues deduction, and make members apply for it annually. Currently, most of our members opt for dues deduction by signature, and can leave the union at any time by ending that deduction. We see no problem with that system.
This bill is a thinly veiled attempt to hamper all unions representing state employees, teachers and school service personnel.
Then there is another horrendous bill concerning the grievance process, SB 601. Sen. Patricia Rucker, who represents Jefferson and part of Berkeley County, submitted the bill this week, and it is referred to only one Senate committee, the Judiciary.
The bill would:
- Force employees to have their grievances notarized before filing.
- Allow state agencies to file a Motion to Dismiss at any time. The chief administrator or administrative law judge have 10 days to either issue a ruling or schedule a hearing on the motion, which would prolong an already-interminable process.
- Potentially force grievants to pay their employers legal expenses. To quote that: “upon motion by a prevailing respondent, the grievant may be ordered to pay the respondent’s reasonable actual attorney fees and actual costs if the administrative law judge finds that the grievance lacked substantial justification; the grievance was not brought in good faith; or that the grievance was brought with malice or wrongful purpose, including, but not limited to, delay or harassment.”
That would be up to interpretation, and could be very costly to our members. This is unacceptable.
We survived a similarly bad bill about the grievance process last year, as it passed the Senate but was not addressed by the House. These issues are being overshadowed by the income/sales tax proposal and other bills, but we cannot let legislators act on these in silence.
- SB 272, which would create more opportunities for businesses to classify workers as independent contractors, passed the Senate again, and is being sent to the governor. The bills has been reported on in depth by Mountain State Spotlight.
- HB 2626, which would close Lakin, Withrow, and Hopemont hospitals, plus the Manchin Senior Care Center, has passed one committee and resides in the House Finance Committee. One delegate, Danielle Walker, a Democrat from Morgantown, has told us she will vote against the bill.
- The bill that would essentially privatize the Department of Highways, HB 2720, is in the Workforce Development Committee, the first of two committee references.
- SB 7: Limits political activity by public employees. That passed the Senate 34-0, and is in the House Judiciary Committee.
- SB 11: Declaring work stoppage or strike by public employees to be unlawful. That has passed both houses and has been sent to the governor.
- SB 39: Prohibiting insurers (including PEIA) to require preauthorization for tests to stage cancer, effective July 1, 2022. The bill passed the Senate 33-0, and is in the House Health and Human Resources Committee.
The following bills are in committee and have not been taken up:
- SB 245: Providing 11-month window to allow PERS members to purchase service credit. That bill is in committee and has not been taken up.
- House Bill 2117: Provides certain employees in the DOH increases in annual pay. That bill is in committee and has not been taken up.
- HB 2142: Establishing seniority rights for public employees. That bill is in committee and has not been taken up.
If you have questions or want us to track a certain bill, e-mail to [email protected].