Dougco Board and HB 1118: Tuesday's Colorado Open Union Negotiations Two-Fer

Timing is everything, they say. What were the odds that these two key votes would go down the same day? The dual development certainly is noteworthy.

On Tuesday the Colorado House of Representatives adopted House Bill 1118, which simply requires school districts to open up union negotiations to public observation so taxpayers and teachers can see dollars and interests negotiated in good faith. The vote was 33 to 31, with one member absent. All other Democrats but one voted No. All Republicans but one voted Yes.

Later that night the Douglas County Board of Education unanimously voted to approve a resolution that the district’s union negotiations be held in public view. Last month the grassroots group Parent Led Reform, led by local mom Karin Piper, proposed the issue before the Board.

Two weeks later the local union (Douglas County Federation) joined the request. My Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow raised the question of how serious the union’s support of open negotiations is, but given their apparent silence at Tuesday’s board meeting, we still have to wait and see what the answer is.

We also have to wait and see what the fate of HB 1118 will be in the state senate. As DeGrow explained in his 2010 issue backgrounder “Colorado Education and Open Negotiations,” a very similar bill nearly passed the state legislature in 2004. Hopefully not charting a path for its 2012 successor,

The legislation narrowly passed the lower chamber before succumbing to defeat on the senate floor.

In any case, Tuesday’s twin votes for transparency demonstrate that the old school district open union negotiations momentum is alive and going strong. If Douglas County goes a step beyond Colorado Springs 11 and demonstrates how a completely transparent bargaining process can be done well, the only thing left to wonder is where in Colorado (or beyond) will that momentum carry it next?