New Regulations Effective April 1st

The Office of Administrative Law has approved PERB’s proposed regulations implementing the Public Employees Communication Chapter (PECC) (Gov. Code, sec. 3555 et seq.), the Prohibition on Public Employers Deterring or Discouraging Union Membership chapter (PEDD) (Gov. Code, sec. 3550 et seq.), and making changes to the Board’s existing regulation concerning the designation of precedential decisions. The regulations are effective April 1, 2020.

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PERB Issues 2018-19 Annual Report

PERB has released its annual report for fiscal year 2018-2019. (The report is available here.)  Here is my annual summary of the statistics in the report:

Unfair Practice Charges

691 unfair practice charges (UPCs) were filed in fiscal year 2018-19. This is almost identical to the 690 UPCs filed in fiscal year 2017-18, and below the 20-year annual average of 754 UPCs.

Interestingly, the number of UPCs under each act was also remarkably similar. The MMBA saw a slight decrease from 296 to 289 UPCs. EERA went from 277 to 279 UPCs. The Dills Act went from 32 to 31 UPCs. HEERA stayed the same at 73 UPCs. The Trial Court Act saw the largest change going from 9 UPCs in 2017-28 to 1 in 2018-19. The Trial Court Interpreter Act stayed the same at 1 UPC. Finally, the Public Employee Communications Chapter went from 2 UPCs to 1 this past fiscal year.

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PERB Awards Attorneys’ Fees Against School District

Bellflower Unified School District (2019) PERB Decision No. A475-Ea (Issued on November 12, 2019)

In this case the Bellflower Unified School District sought reconsideration of an administrative decision. The Board wasted no time in holding that, “even the most cursory review of Board precedent would have revealed that our Regulations do not permit reconsideration of decisions resolving administrative appeals.” Indeed, I wrote a blog post in 2018 discussing the Board’s decision in Lake Elsinore USD (2018) PERB Dec. No. A446-Ea, in which the Board emphasized that reconsideration is not available for decisions involving an administrative appeal.

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State Auditor Examines Fiscal Health of Cities

The California State Auditor recently unveiled an online dashboard that ranks the top California cities facing fiscal challenges based on information about their fiscal health. The rankings are based on an evaluation of five factors: cash position/liquidity; debt burden; financial reserves; revenue trends; and retirement obligations. According to the State Auditor, the goal of providing this online interface is to provide interested parties a “data driven” view of each city’s risk assessment.

For anyone involved in contract negotiations, it’s definitely worth taking some time to peruse the data and reports on the dashboard. You’ll see that the State Auditor is very focused on how cities are addressing pension liabilities and other post-employment benefits (OPEB). In several reports (e.g. City of Hemet) the State Auditor has urged cities to explore ways to pay down unfunded pension and OPEB liabilities. The State Auditor has also urged at-risk cities to explore ways to reduce ongoing expenses. For example, the State Auditor recommended that the City of Hemet consider outsourcing landscape maintenance for its parks, which could save the city up to $300,000 a year.

Many of the State Auditor’s recommendations are things that public agencies are already doing, or trying to do, throughout the state. But it’s nice to have the validation of the State Auditor behind these proposals.

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PERB Moves Forward on Regulatory Packages

Update on Regulatory Packages

At its meeting on December 12, 2019, PERB’s Board instructed staff to move forward with its EFile regulations. The Board had previously instructed staff to move forward with proposed regulations on the State Mediation and Conciliation Service, continuances, and recusals. Once staff have prepared these regulatory packages they will be sent to the Office of Administrative Law to begin the formal process under the Administrative Procedure Act.

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