AG issues guidance on contract approvals in relation to open meeting law

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The Division of Open Government has issued guidance on whether, under the state’s open meeting law, nonunion personnel contracts and union collective bargaining agreements may be approved in an executive session.

According to two “frequently asked questions” on the division’s website, the final vote to adopt a nonunion personnel agreement must occur in an open session.

The public body may discuss the contract in executive session, which is allowed under Purpose 2 – to “conduct strategy sessions in preparation for negotiations with nonunion personnel or to conduct … contract negotiations with nonunion personnel.” Thus, the public body may agree to final contract terms in executive session, but the vote to execute the contract must occur in open session.

A collective bargaining agreement may be discussed and executed in an executive session, but the public body must promptly disclose the agreement in an open session. This is allowed under executive session Purpose 2 as well as Purpose 3, to “discuss strategy with respect to collective bargaining or litigation if an open meeting may have a detrimental effect on the bargaining or litigating position of the public body.”

After being approved in executive session, the terms of the collective bargaining agreement should be shared in public session at the same meeting or at the public body’s next scheduled meeting.

To read the guidance, visit www.mass.gov/ago/government-resources/open-meeting-law/oml-faqs/faq-union-and-non-union-contracts.html.
Written by MMA Legislative Analyst Katie S. McCue