SB 371: Prohibits Unionized Employees From Representing Employers Against Union

SB 371 was introduced by Senator John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) on February 14, 2017. SB 371 bill would add the following new section to the MMBA:

3505.9. An individual who will be covered by a memorandum of understanding between a public agency and a recognized public employee organization shall not represent the public agency in negotiations with the recognized employee organization.

Since this bill was just introduced, a bill analysis is not yet available.

Comments:

  1. Because a bill analysis is not yet available, it’s unclear what “problem” this bill is trying to solve.  It’s certainly true that under the MMBA, virtually any employee can be unionized, including managers and confidential employees. However, I’ve never heard of an employee being asked to bargain on behalf of a public employer in negotiations involving the employee’s own bargaining unit.
  2. However, because a “recognized employee organization” just means a union representing some employees, it’s possible the situation this bill is attempting to address is this: a union, like SEIU, could represent both a rank and file unit and a management unit. If so, perhaps this bill is saying that a manager, who is represented by SEIU, cannot bargain for the employer against the rank and file unit that is also represented by SEIU. If that’s the intent, my question is what does it mean to “represent” the public agency in negotiations.  Does it mean the manager cannot even be on the bargaining team?  When I serve as a chief negotiator, I almost always have managers on my team because they are the ones who know the unit the best. If I can’t have managers on my team that makes bargaining extremely difficult, to say the least.
  3. Assuming the bill only prohibits someone from serving as a chief negotiator, I am still curious as to what prompted the need for this proposed restriction. I believe most public agencies are sophisticated enough to make individualized determinations as to who is best to represent the agency. So I’m looking forward to hearing more about what prompted SB 371.
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