Fullerton Councilmember Responds: New COIN Ordinance Has Teeth

Fullerton Councilmember Responds: New COIN Ordinance Has Teeth

This website recently posted articles criticizing Fullerton’s newly passed COIN ordinance, the Fullerton Transparency and Accountability in Labor Negotiations Ordinance. The author used Supervisor John Moorlach’s earlier writing to guide his criticism of our achievement. For the sake of clarity, I use the same template to correct the record. Supervisor Moorlach’s essential elements are, in fact, included in the Fullerton COIN ordinance. Below is a list of what the Fullerton ordinance accomplishes:

1. Independent Negotiator:  Even before the passage of this ordinance, Fullerton has had the practice of using independent negotiators for collective bargaining and now this ordinance requires the City Council to utilize an independent negotiator when either an employee organization or the City proposes significant changes to wages, hours or other conditions of employment, or when when the employee association is represented by a third-party negotiator or legal counsel, or at any other time the Council deems appropriate. Independent negotiator: check!

2. Cost of Contracts:  The Fullerton Transparency and Accountability in Negotiations Ordinance includes a requirement for independent audits of each and every negotiated agreement between the City and an employee organization. Our ordinance goes further, though, to keep the Council, employees and taxpayers aware of the financial implications of current labor agreements. We added a new requirement that the city post on-line and provide to Council annually, an analysis of those mid-contract labor agreements with updated CALPERS rates and other real-time benefit cost increases or decreases. With this new requirement, specifically, taxpayers will be able to see how changes at CaLPERS and with city health benefit providers directly impact the City’s financial liabilities. Cost of contracts: check!

3. Offers and Counter Offers:  In the Fullerton ordinance all rejected offers and counter offers are required to be made public immediately after the Closed Session of Council during which they were rejected. Offers and Counter Offers: check!

4. Board Disclosure:  The Fullerton ordinance requires Council Members to disclose any and all private communications one might have had with a member of an employee organization regarding a potential contract both in our Closed Session and in our public, Open Session. Council Members are also required to sign a written acknowledgment that he or she has read all of the financial analysis of the proposed negotiated contract. Board Disclosure: check!

5. Contract Approval:  The Fullerton ordinance requires that any tentative agreement be posted on the city website and given to the public at least 7 days before the first City Council meeting at which it is publicly considered. Additionally, each tentative agreement must be heard at two consecutive City Council public, Open Sessions before it is voted on in order to increase the public’s time to analyze the information. Contract Approval: check!

Here is a link to the Fullerton ordinance so you can see for yourself, it’s all there: http://cityoffullerton.com/weblink8/2/doc/539340/Page1.aspx

The effort in Costa Mesa, Fullerton and the County of Orange to bring more transparency and accountability to the labor negotiation process is an important one. 32 cities in Orange County have yet to consider an ordinance of this kind. Perhaps our focus should be in getting more cities to join our cause.

About the Author:  Jennifer Fitzgerald was elected to the Fullerton City Council in 2012. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the Association of California Cities-Orange County Chapter and the Orange County Taxpayers Association and is a Past President of the Fullerton Chamber of Commerce. She and her husband, Sean, are longtime residents of Fullerton where they’re raising their two sons.

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