This case involves a firefighter who aggravated an existing back injury in December 2015 while observing a demonstration from another firefighter. The firefighter said that his back began to spasm and that he could not even stand up the day after observing the demonstration. His doctor took him off of work for six weeks. On January 30, 2016, the firefighter participated in the California Spartan Race – an approximately eight-mile run over varied terrain with obstacles. The city subsequently launched an investigation of the firefighter which concluded that he had engaged in dishonesty and abuse of sick leave. The firefighter was terminated.
SB 270 was introduced by Senator Durazo on January 28, 2021. Senator Durazo introduced a nearly identical bill, SB 1173, in the last legislative session. SB 1173 initially passed the Senate, and then passed the Assembly with amendments. However, the Senate was unable to concur in the Assembly amendments before the legislative session ended. The language of SB 1173 is now in SB 270.
AB 237 was introduced on January 13, 2021, by Assembly Member Gray. This bill would create a new chapter in the Government Code, the “Public Employee Health Protection Act.” AB 237 would require an employer to continue paying its portion of an employee’s health insurance premium during the pendency of any strike. According to the language of the bill, “It is a matter of statewide concern that access to health and other medical care continue and that employers not suspend coverage or their contributions towards premiums for workers or their dependent family members during a strike.”
In this case a union declared impasse in its negotiations with a county and requested factfinding under MMBA section 3505.4. The county’s local rules, however, require that the parties engage in mediation when there is an impasse in negotiations. Since the union did not request mediation, the county challenged the union’s request to PERB for factfinding. The Office of the General Counsel approved the union’s factfinding request and the Board affirmed.
The district and union in this case were parties to a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) containing a grievance procedure culminating in binding arbitration. The union sought to arbitrate a grievance (the details of which are not relevant to my discussion of this case). The district refused. The union filed a motion to compel arbitration in superior court and prevailed.
The union then filed an unfair practice charge with PERB alleging that the district’s refusal to arbitrate the grievance constituted an unlawful unilateral change; namely, a repudiation of the parties’ CBA grievance provision. The ALJ agreed and PERB affirmed. Notably, PERB affirmed the ALJ’s order that to make the union whole, the district was required to reimburse the union for its attorneys’ fees incurred in bringing the motion to compel arbitration.
Tim Yeung is a Partner with the law firm of Sloan Sakai Yeung & Wong LLP in Sacramento, California. He exclusively practices labor and employment law, with a particular focus on the public sector.
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