CSAC Bulletin Article

Bill Would Give Union Reps Same Privilege as Pastors, Doctors, and Lawyers

March 7, 2019

Several times over, the Legislature has considered granting special treatment to union representatives in legal proceedings so they could refuse to disclose information or provide evidence about a certain subject. Doing so would escalate the relationship between a union agent and a represented employee and put it on the same pedestal as doctor-patient, counselor-victim, pastor-penitent, and attorney-client. The idea has never made it into law, but it has recently been given new life in the form of AB 418 (Kalra).

Specifically, the bill would grant a union agent and a represented employee or represented former employee the right to refuse to disclose, in any court or to any administrative board or agency, or in any arbitration or other proceeding, any confidential communication between the employee or former employee and the union agent made while the union agent was acting in his or her representative capacity.

CSAC, alongside a large coalition of other public sector employers, is opposed to AB 418 due to the negative effect it would have on agencies’ ability to conduct timely and thorough investigations into allegations of misconduct (see our coalition letter for more details). The bill is scheduled to be heard in Assembly Judiciary Committee on March 12 with CSAC there to testify in opposition.

In a similar fashion, AB 314 (Bonta) would also expand the rights of union representatives in a damaging manner. AB 314 deals specifically with “release time,” which is time off without loss of compensation for public employees to engage in specified activities related to employer-employee relations. AB 314 seeks to expand the duties eligible under release time, thereby eroding the collective bargaining process and also nullifying heavily negotiated legislation on new employee orientations. It is scheduled to be heard in Assembly Public Employment and Retirement Committee on March 20.

You can find other bills on employee relations at Counties.org/legislative-tracking. Please contact CSAC Legislative Representative Geoff Neill with any questions.

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