City of Madera (2016) PERB Dec. No. 2506-M (Issued on 12/13/16)
This case involved a decertification petition filed after the expiration of a contract. Under the City’s local rules, once a contract expires a decertification petition may only be filed during the month of March. The contract at issue expired on June 30th and the union seeking to decertify the incumbent filed its decertification petition in November. Pursuant to the City’s local rules, the petition was rejected. The union then filed an unfair practice charge asserting that the City’s local rule was unreasonable.
The Board affirmed that when a local rule is challenged as unreasonable, the burden of proof is on the challenging party. When determining whether a local rule is unreasonable, “PERB does not inquire whether it would find a different rule more reasonable, but asks whether the disputed rule is consistent with and effectuates the purposes of the express provisions of the MMBA.” In this case the union argued that having only a one-month window period after expiration of a contract is unreasonable. For example, the union argued the employees in this case would be required to wait nine months without a contract before being able to file a decertification petition. In rejecting this argument, the Board noted that there was no legal authority for the union’s proposition. According to the Board:
The MMBA does not require that a decertification petition be allowed immediately upon expiration of a contract and the City’s local rule does not provide for such a filing. Therefore, the City’s local rule is not inconsistent with the MMBA and is not unreasonable.
- This case illustrates the deference given to local rules by PERB. Many local rules—including PERB’s “model” rules for the MMBA—don’t require that decertification petitions be filed during a “window” period after a contract expires. These rules provide that, with very limited exceptions, that once a contract expires a decertification petition can be filed at any time. But under the MMBA, a local entity is free to have a different rule as long as it’s reasonable.