Labor negotiations are famously secretive. Even knowing what goes on behind the closed-doors is often no better than reading second hand, anonymous-sourced accounts. But one council member in Costa Mesa is hoping to change that.

Steve Mensinger has proposed a policy called COIN, or Civic Openness in Negotiations ordinance. Among the requirements that would be realized if COIN receives support of the council’s majority would be a daylight clause on not only the contracts resulting from a negotiation, but on-the-go updates of how negotiations are going and what is being proposed. Once a contract comes out of a negotiation, it would need to be publicly posted for seven days before the first of two council votes.

Furthermore, the cost not only of the current contracts but all new proposed contracts would have to be published for public consumption.

It is important to note one other significant change. COIN would prevent any employee who benefits from a new contract to negotiate on behalf of the city. In other words, high-level managers negotiating for the city could benefit from a pay raise being proposed from across the table. COIN would replace conflicted manager with an independent negotiator.

From the Orange County Register:

Cloak-and-dagger has long surrounded contract negotiations between municipal governments and their workers. Lots of closed-session, hush-hush, top-secret, we’d-have-to-kill-you-if-we-told-you type stuff, followed by the sudden appearance of a proposed contract which comes to a swift city council/board of directors vote and then is a done deal  – before, critics charge, the public (and even some of the people voting on it) really understand what it promises and what it will cost.

Critic-types say this is why cities are in the shape they’re in when it comes to unfunded pension liabilities and the like.

Read the full article here.