AB 2154: Mandates Paid Release Time for Union Reps

AB 2154 was introduced on February 12, 2018, by Assembly Member Bonta.  AB 2154 provides uniform minimum standards for paid release time for union representatives across all the acts administered by PERB.  Specifically, the bill mandates that an employer provide a “reasonable” number of employee representatives time off without loss of compensation for the following activities:

  1. Investigating potential or existing grievances, or otherwise enforcing a collective bargaining agreement or memorandum of understanding.
  2. Meeting and conferring with representatives of the public employer on matters within the scope of representation.
  3. Testifying or appearing as the designated representative of the exclusive representative in conferences, hearings, or other proceedings before the Public Employment Relations Board, in matters relating to a charge filed by the exclusive representative against the public employer or by the public employer against the exclusive representative.
  4. Testifying or appearing as the designated representative of the exclusive representative in matters before the governing body of the public employer, a personnel, civil service, or merit commission, board of adjustment or an arbitrator.
  5. Serving as a representative of the exclusive representative for new employee orientation.

Comment:

  • According to the California State Council of the SEIU, California’s eight separate statutes covering different groups of public employees are inconsistent with regard to paid time-off allowances.  According to SEIU, “These inconsistencies have created inequities in the abilities of employees to meaningfully exercise their rights and fully participate in employee-employer relations.”
  • This bill largely mirrors the MMBA (Gov Code 3505.3) which provides for reasonable release time in bullet points 2, 3, and 4, above.  This bill adds grievance processing and employee orientations to the list of areas where paid release time is mandatory.
  • In my opinion, whether paid release is allowed, and if so, how much, should be a subject of negotiation between the employer and union. Moreover, the unions tried to mandate paid release time to attend orientations in AB 119 but were unsuccessful. Now with the Janus v AFSCME decision about to issue, it seems getting paid release time is still a high priority for organized labor.
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