In-Home Supportive Services Employer-Employee Relations Act Enacted

As part of the budget compromise between the Legislature and Governor, SB 1036 was enacted on June 27, 2012.  It created the In-Home Supportive Services Employer-Employee Relations Act (IHSS-EERA) (Gov Code section 110000 et. seq.).   While I’ve heard that county IHSS officials knew this was coming, it caught me by surprise.  This will be the 8th labor relations statute administered by PERB.  To say that the bill creating the IHSS-EERA is confusing would be a serious understatement.  But from what I can discern, here the answers to some key questions:

What Does it Do?
In a nutshell, the IHSS-EERA creates a single Statewide Authority to conduct statewide negotiations with IHSS providers.  Currently, counties can establish public authorities to act as the “employer” for purposes of collective bargaining with IHSS providers.  Under the IHSS-EERA, the Statewide Authority will take over bargaining from affected county authorities.  In terms of requirements, the IHSS-EERA essentially mirrors the MMBA.

Who is Covered?
Good question.  It’s not entirely clear to me.  But from my communications with people who know about this bill, the IHSS-EERA was intended to initially apply to the eight (8) counties that are part of the Coordinated Care Initiative demonstration project.  I believe the eight counties are: Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, San Mateo, San Bernardino, Riverside, Alameda, and Santa Clara.  The language is so confusing that I can’t tell for sure that it’s truly limited to these eight counties.  But I’ve also been told that regardless of who is covered initially the intent is to eventually expand coverage of the IHSS-EERA to all counties.

When is it Effective?
Another good question for which the answer is not entirely clear.  The bill itself is effective immediately.  However, the Statewide Authority will not take over bargaining until the eight demonstration counties complete IHSS enrollment requirements.  SB 1036 provides that the enrollment requirements will not be completed before March 1, 2013.  So practically, it appears this bill is not going to have an effect until that date.

Who Enforces it?
PERB.  PERB is expected to draft emergency regulations to enforce the IHSS-EERA.

Comments:

  1. This is probably the most difficult to understand employment/labor law bill that I’ve ever seen.  The IHSS demonstration project adds in a very complex layer into the bill.  Perhaps this is a new tactic by unions – to make bills so confusing that by the time management figures it out the bill has passed.  If so, it’s a pretty effective tactic.
  2. Even though this bill appears to only apply to eight counties, there is no doubt that the intent is to eventually expand it to every county.  My understanding is that once counties fall under the Statewide Authority, all wages for IHSS providers will be picked up by the state.  So counties won’t be on the hook for costs negotiated by the Statewide Authority.  That alleviates some initial concerns regarding whether the state could impose additional wage costs on counties without their consent through the collective bargaining process and whether that might be unconstitutional as applied to charter counties.
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