Board: Written Letter Constituted Declaration of Impasse

City of Salinas (2017) PERB Order No. Ad-457-M (Issued on 1/4/18)

One of the triggers for requesting factfinding under the MMBA is a “written notice of a declaration of impasse.” (Gov. Code §3505.4.) The issue in this case was whether a letter from a City stating that it had met its obligations to meet and confer with the union—but never uses the term “impasse”—nevertheless constitutes a written declaration of impasse under the MMBA. The Office of the General Counsel held that such a letter did not constitute a declaration of impasse.  The Board reversed.

The Board held that the meaning of the City’s letter was clear: that the City believed it had fulfilled its obligation to meet and confer because the parties were at a point where continued negotiations would be futile. The Board also noted that the City did not respond to the union’s request for clarification on whether it had declared impasse. The Board conceded that the City’s letter would “undoubtedly be clearer” if it used the term “impasse.” But the Board held that PERB looks at the substance of a party’s words, not their form, to determine their legal effect. Here, under these facts, the Board held that the City’s letter constituted a written declaration of impasse even though it did not use that term.

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Rare Case of PERB Taking Jurisdiction Over a Transit Agency

San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (2018) PERB Order No. Ad-460-M (Issued on 1/23/18)

This case was interesting because most independent transit districts, such as the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (System), are not subject to PERB’s jurisdiction.  But here, the System’s enabling statutes give the State Mediation and Conciliation Service (SMCS) jurisdiction to investigate and issue determinations concerning representation. These enabling statutes were enacted back when SMCS was under the jurisdiction of the Department of Industrial Relations. But in 2012, SCMS was transferred to PERB. Following the transfer PERB issued regulations governing SMCS’s handling of cases arising under the various public transit statutes.

In this case, the Transit Electromechanics Union’s (TEU) filed a petition for certification to represent certain employees at the System. SMCS denied the petition on the grounds that federal authority did not allow the severing of a smaller unit of employees from an existing bargaining unit. Initially, the Office of Appeals said that it did not have jurisdiction over this matter. However, the Board held that under its regulations, it did have jurisdiction to consider TEU’s appeal.

Comments:

  1. I thought this case was interesting because it’s rare for an independent transit agency to fall under PERB’s jurisdiction. Here, it’s the very narrow area of dealing with petitions for certification. Under PERB’s regulations, the Board is required to apply the “relevant federal law and administrative practice developed under the Labor Management Relations Act, 1947, as amended” in resolving questions of representation.
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Board: Original Signatures Only for Proof of Support

Regents of the University of California (2018) PERB Order Ad-459-H (Issued on 1/19/18)

The San Diego House Staff Association (Association) filed a petition for unit modification seeking to add employees to an existing bargaining unit. As proof of support, the Association provided printouts of employees’ electronic signatures in favor of representation by the union. The Office of the General Counsel dismissed the petition on the grounds that the Association did not provide the employees’ original signatures. The Board affirmed. Continue reading

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Board Declines to Order “Live Reading” Remedy

United Teachers of Los Angeles (2017) PERB Decision No. 2545-E (Issued on 12/28/17)

I’ve been meaning to discuss this case which was issued late last year.  The most interesting issue in this case was the union’s request for a “live reading” order as a remedy to the unfair practices by the employer. In this case, a pair of charter schools were found to have violated the rights of the union and employees when the principal of one of the schools terminated an after-school meeting between a union organizer and teachers, and made coercive statements. The other school principal was found to have refused to allow union organizers to enter into one of the schools to meet with teachers. Continue reading

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PERB Releases Case Processing Efficiency Report

PERB has released its report on its Case Processing Efficiency Initiative. (Click here.) The goal of the initiative was to find ways to improve PERB’s processing of cases.  A series of meetings were held at PERB’s regional offices to gather stakeholder input.  In addition, PERB held a series of internal meetings with its staff.  The final report lists all the ideas presented at these forums in order of High, Medium, and Low priority.

PERB has scheduled two  meetings in March to review the report.  The meetings are:

  • March 14, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. at the PERB Headquarters Office, 1031 18th Street, Room 103, Sacramento, CA.
  • March 15, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. at the California Dept. of Tax, 505 North Brand Blvd., Ste 700 (Room 705), Glendale, CA.

The PERB has also invited the submission of written comments on the report by March 9, 2018, so that the Board can review them in advance of the public meetings.

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