April 21, 2010

ACLU supports transparency in union negotiations

Late last month, Gov. Gibbons created a task force to deal with the future of Nevada's education policy. Relying on a legal opinion, the task force declared itself exempt from open meeting laws and held its first meeting behind closed doors. Newspaper editorials, the ACLU, local news outlets and this blog all disagreed with their decision. Fortunately, the task force soon reversed course and declared it will hold all future meetings in compliance with open meeting laws.

End of story, right? Not quite.

After the ACLU of Nevada challenged Gov. Gibbons for allowing the task force to meet in secret, Gibbons shot back, asking the ACLU to also support transparency in union negotiations.

Lo and behold, they do:

In response to your question, as we have noted, our position is that open government principles should extend to the collective bargaining process. While arguments can always be made as to why particular government processes should be excluded from public scrutiny, it is our view that the spirit of the Open Meeting Law and the underlying principles behind it mean that we should support openness except in very rare circumstances and that neither the business of the Task Force nor the process of collective bargaining merit secrecy. (Emphasis mine)

We applaud the ACLU of Nevada for supporting union negotiation transparency and Gov. Gibbons for making it an issue. Anytime a union contract includes a provision forbidding it from being put online, something has gone seriously wrong.

You can read their letter here.

(Thanks Jon Ralston)