More on Layoffs

City of Sacramento (2013) PERB Decision No. 2351-M (Issued on 12/24/13)

This is a follow-up to my post from January 9th on the City of Sacramento decision.  In that post I commented on the Board’s citation to the City of Vallejo case for the proposition that the timing and number of employees to be laid off is a negotiable “effect.”  When I went back and read the City of Sacramento decision again, I found an important passage in the case that I previously missed.  It is the following:

Although alternatives to layoffs are analyzed as “effects” of the decision to layoff, PERB has similarly recognized that alternatives to layoffs, such as concessions in wages or benefits, are also appropriate matters for collective bargaining. (San Mateo City School District (1984) PERB Decision No. 383, p. 18 [expressly recognizing “options in lieu of layoff’ as one of several negotiable “effects” of a layoff decision].)

That’s the first time to my knowledge that PERB has suggested that, “alternatives to layoffs, such as  concessions in wages or benefits” are negotiable effects of a layoff.  My worry, obviously, is that there is really no distinction between having to bargain alternatives to a layoff as an effect versus having to bargain the layoff decision itself.  The Board cites to the San Mateo decision in support of this statement.

I went and read that decision.  Here’s the line in San Mateo cited by the Board: “In the instant case, CSEA’s proposals address issues related to the implementation of layoffs, including the circumstances, timing and notice of layoffs, seniority, options in lieu of layoff, bumping and reemployment rights, and voluntary demotions or reductions in hours.”  So there is the phrase “options in lieu of layoff.”  However, when you read the San Mateo case you’ll see that the issue being discussed was a layoff proposal to be included in a memorandum of understanding; it was not an actual layoff situation.  The proposal in San Mateo contained provisions on options in lieu of layoff such as voluntary demotion, retirement, reemployment rights, etc.   So the issue was once a layoff decision has been made, what options or alternatives do the employees have?  In my mind that’s a true “effects” issue and I have no problem with having to bargain that.

However, it’s something entirely different to suggest that I have to bargain whether or not a layoff is even necessary because there are alternatives, such as wage concessions.  I’m not sure if that’s the Board’s position but this dicta does seem to suggest that.

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