Employee Relations 04/05/2013
Legislation Would Alter Relationship Between County Employers and Employee Representatives
Two bills that were introduced as spot bills have been amended
recently and will fundamentally alter the local relationship
between counties and employee representatives.
AB 537, by Assembly Member Bonta, would make mediation after labor impasse mandatory rather than subject to local rules, and AB 616, by Assembly Member Bocanegra, would shift many elements of labor relations from local rules to the jurisdiction of the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB). The Meyers-Millias-Brown Act (MMBA), the collective bargaining law that has governed local public agencies since 1968, permits each agency to enact local rules to address many of the elements of labor relations. AB 537 and AB 616 ignore the history and evolution of the local rules that counties and their employees have developed and lived by for more than 30 years. CSAC is opposed to both bills and encourages all counties to adopt an oppose position as well. Detailed descriptions of the bills follow.
AB 537 (Bonta) - Oppose
As amended on March 19, 2013
Assembly Bill 537, by Assembly Member Rob Bonta, would make mediation mandatory after impasse if either party requests it and would equires the parties to agree on a mediator within five days of a request.
AB 537 will be heard in the Assembly Public Employees, Retirement and Social Security Committee on April 24.
AB 616 (Bocanegra) - Oppose
As amended on March 19, 2013
Assembly Bill 616, by Assembly Member Raul Bocanegra, would make several changes to statute governing MMBA:
- Extend from 30 to 60 days the amount of time that differences may be submitted to fact finding.
- Allow parties to seek a determination from PERB if either party disputes that impasse has occurred; defines impasse.
- Shift recognition of employee representative and unit determination from local rules to PERB.
- Shift designation of management and confidential employees to PERB.
AB 616 will be heard in the Assembly Public Employees, Retirement and Social Security Committee on April 24.
Occupational Health and Safety
AB 326 (Morrell) – Support
As amended on April 3, 2013
Assembly Bill 326, by Assembly Member Mike Morrell, would require every employer to make an immediate report to the Division of Occupational Health and Safety (Cal/OSHA) of each fatality or hospitalization incident that
occurs within 30 days of a work-related incident.
Current Cal/OSHA regulations require employers to report every serious injury, illness or death to Cal/OSHA within eight hours of the incident, or risk a citation and/or a fine of $5,000 (CCR Title 8, Section 342). The regulations include a definition of “serious injury or illness” as any hospitalization for a period in excess of 24 hours for other than medical observation. Currently, no statute of limitations exists for reporting such hospitalizations; as such, California employers may be cited and fined for any hospitalization that occurs months or years after the actual date of injury, including non-emergency procedures such as carpal tunnel or minor orthopedic surgeries. Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards, however, require only fatalities and multiple hospitalizations occurring within 30 days of the initial incident to be reported (29 CFR Section 1904.39(b)(6)).
AB 326 would align Cal/OSHA standards with those of the federal OSHA standards and will be heard in the Assembly Labor and Employment Committee on April 10.
AB 517 (Achadjian) – Support
As introduced on February 20, 2013
Assembly Bill 517, by Assembly Member Katcho Achadjian, would provide local public entities in the state of California with the authority to seek regulatory relief from civil penalties imposed by the California Department of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA).
Current law provides Cal/OSHA with the authority to levy fines upon local agencies for unsafe and/or unhealthy working conditions. School districts, the University of California, the California State University and community college districts are able to seek a refund of Cal/OSHA civil penalties once the conditions that lead to the citation have been identified and remedied and there have been no serious Cal/OSHA violations for at least two years. Assembly Bill 186 (Chapter 141, Statutes of 2005) provided this same allowance to public safety entities. AB 517 would permit all local government agencies to seek Cal/OSHA civil fine rebates under those same conditions.
AB 517 will be heard in the Assembly Labor and Employment Committee on April 10.
SB 296 (Correa) – Support
As amended on April 1, 2013
Senate Bill 296, by Senator Lou Correa, would increase by $9 million the amount of state assistance provided to counties to fund the activities of county veterans service officers.
Funding for CVSOs is shared by counties and the state, with counties currently providing 84 percent of the costs associated with services provided by CVSOs and the State providing the remaining 16 percent. The State’s allocation of funding for CVSOs to counties has not changed in 18 years; as many veterans are, and will be, returning to counties from service in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is important to expand these services by increasing the State’s share of funding for CVSOs.
SB 296 will be heard in the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee on April 9.
SB 313 (de Leon) - Oppose
As introduced on February 13, 2013
Senate Bill 313, by Senator Kevin de Leon, would prohibit a public agency from taking punitive action against a public safety officer, or denying promotion on grounds other than merit, because that officer’s name is placed on a Brady list. The Brady list is any system, index, list, or other record containing the names of peace officers whose personnel files are likely to contain evidence of dishonesty or bias, which is maintained by a prosecutorial agency or office in accordance with the holding in Brady v. Maryland.
SB 313 would, however, allow a public agency to take punitive or personnel action against a public safety officer based on the underlying acts or omissions for which that officer’s name was placed on the Brady list, but prohibits the introduction of any evidence that an officer’s name was placed on a Brady list in any administrative appeal of a punitive action or civil proceeding between the officer and an office or public agency.
CSAC is concerned that SB 313 could restrict management’s ability to appropriately discipline peace officers. SB 313 will be heard in the Senate Public Safety Committee on April 9.