Employee Relations 04/19/2013
Bills Aimed at Taking Local Rules out of Labor Negotiations to be heard April 24
CSAC remains strongly opposed to legislation that will
fundamentally alter the local relationship between counties and
employee representatives. The Meyers-Milias-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, by Assembly
Member Rob Bonta and AB 616, by Assembly Member Raul Bocanegra,
further detailed below, ignore the history and evolution of the
local rules that counties and their employees have developed and
lived by for more than 30 years.
It should be noted that AB 537 was substantially amended on Thursday to include more changes to MMBA. Counties will recall that AB 537 already sought to make mediation after labor impasse a mandatory procedure rather than subject to county rules. New changes in AB 537 include the following:
- Prohibits employers from restricting communication between local agency representatives and employee representatives as part of labor negotiation ground rules. This change is contrary to the understood ban on “direct dealing” where a member of a bargaining team communicates directly with the members of the union or the agency. The change is one-sided in that it does not prohibit the union from seeking a ground rule that the employer cannot communicate directly with employees.
- Binds a governing body to any tentative agreement reached by the bargaining representatives. The MMBA currently states that a tentative agreement is provided to the governing body for review. Again, this change is one-sided in that the bill would not bind the employee representatives to the agreement until ratification by the employees.
- Makes three changes related to arbitration: 1) Applies the provisions of the California Arbitration Act to the enforcement of arbitration agreements under the MMBA; 2) Prohibits a rejection of a request for arbitration due to procedural challenges (timelines, failure to exhaust pre-arbitration remedies); and, 3) Makes an agreement to arbitrate a dispute enforceable, even if the conduct in question may also constitute an unfair labor practice.
- Requires “meet and confer” over local rules rather than “consultation” and subjects an impasse over local rules to factfinding procedures.
AB 537 will be heard in the Assembly Public Employees,
Retirement, and Social Security Committee on Wednesday, April 24.
A sample opposition letter can be found here.
AB 616 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 also be heard in the Assembly Public Employees,
Retirement and Social Security Committee on April 24.
Counties are encouraged to remit letters in opposition to AB 537 and AB 616. Click here to view CSAC’s letters of opposition.