AB 765: Allows All Peace Officers in a Single Unit Under EERA

SB 765 was introduced by Senator Block on February 22, 2013.  As introduced, it was a spot bill making only technical changes to EERA.  On April 1, the bill was amended to add the following to EERA section 3545:

(d) Notwithstanding subdivision (e), a district that employs full-time peace officers, as that term is defined in Chapter 4.5 (commencing with Section 830) of Title 3 of Part 2 of the Penal Code, the district and the board shall not prohibit an employee who is a full-time peace officer from joining or participating in employee organizations and negotiating units that are composed of peace officers, supervisory peace officers, or both, and which are not subordinate to any other employee organization.

Comments:

  1. I think the intent of this bill is to allow for a bargaining unit comprised of rank and file peace officers plus supervisory peace officers.  It’s not entirely clear because the bill uses the “joining or participating” language from the MMBA instead of just saying that a “negotiating unit” of both peace officers and supervisory peace officers shall be deemed appropriate.
  2. The bill also states that the new section is effective “notwithstanding” subsection (e), which provides that a negotiating unit of supervisory employees shall not be represented by the same employee organization as employees whom the supervisory employees supervise.  I guess if the new (d) is added, (e) would only apply to non-peace officers.
  3. I have no idea why this bill was introduced.  I assume that there was a PERB unit determination—probably based on 3545(e)—barring peace officer supervisors from being in the same unit as rank and file peace officers.  Presumably the union didn’t like that decision and sought out this change.
  4. My problem with this bill is that there are legitimate reasons why rank and file employees should not be in the same bargaining unit as supervisors.  There are numerous conflicts of interest that can arise in such a situation.  There is no reason to think that it is any different for peace officers.
  5. This bill only changes EERA, and does not affect the MMBA, HEERA, or the Dills Act.  Under EERA, I believe there are roughly 20 school districts and 30 community college districts with their own police departments.  So the effect of this bill is relatively small.  However, my fear is that if this bill passes, it will spur unions to seek similar changes to the other acts.  So unless there is some rational basis for this bill that I am missing, I hope that it fails…
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