North Dakota AFL-CIO Legislature Watch Week ending 1-25-19

This last week saw several bills important to Labor.

HB 1217, a bill that would have stopped any government agency from doing a job that private industry could do, was introduced in the House. This is in a state where we have a state-owned mill and elevator and a state bank. Public schools “compete” with private schools. State-owned prisons “compete” with private, for-profit prisons. We oppose this bill.

The WSI bill, HB 1063, that would try to control opioid addictions by making it far harder on workers had a hearing this week. This legislation would force workers to return to the doctor every seven days to get a painkiller prescription renewed. Though the opioid epidemic is very important, this places the entire burden solely on the backs of workers as if the growing addiction issue is their fault. We oppose this bill.

An LGBT non-discrimination bill, SB 2303, was heard on Wednesday and defeated on Friday. This bill would have protected people in employment and housing so companies couldn't fire people for who they love or kick out renters for being who they are. The AFL-CIO has always taken a firm position on fairness in the workplace. We supported the passage of SB 2303.

This next week is going to be another big week for Labor at the legislature. There are numerous bills that have hearings this week and some will be voted on the floor of the House or Senate. So please pay attention to what’s coming up.

First up is HB 1463, which would allow police and firefighters to collectively bargain in North Dakota. This bill has a hearing on Tuesday at 2:30 and it would be great if every union member possible packed that capital and the halls outside the hearing room. We trust these emergency responders to protect our families. They should be trusted to join together and negotiate the conditions of their employment.

If you can at all attend, please come. And if you can’t Please write to your legislators about supporting HB 1463 here.

There is also a Family Leave bill, 1509, coming up on Monday. Unions have always put family first, and paid leave to take care of close family members would be a great help to lessen their burden. We support this bill.

Also on Monday is a bill, SB 2336 to bring our oil extraction taxes back up to 6.5% after they were dropped in 2015. This is just common sense in a state suffering from budget shortfalls.

And lastly, also on Monday, (Whew!) is HB 1064 which seems to allow WSI to not use impartial hearing officers from the Office of Administrative hearings and let them choose their own hearing officers for final findings of fact, conclusions of law and orders. We oppose this bill and beleive that the process should remain impartial.

Please stay vigilant in contacting your representatives. They absolutely need to hear from working people on these issues.

In Solidarity,

Waylon Hedegaard
North Dakota AFL-CIO President