Employee Relations 06/21/2013
Public Employment Relations Board Hears Oral Argument; Approves Rulemaking Package
In a rare acceptance of oral argument, the Public Employment
Relations Board (PERB) met June 13 to hear oral argument
in City of Lompoc v. Lompoc Police Officers Association;
Lompoc Police Officers Association v. City of Lompoc.
At issue in this case is whether PERB has jurisdiction over peace officers in mixed bargaining units. CSAC and the California State Association of Counties submitted a joint brief in support of the City of Lompoc’s position that PERB does not have jurisdiction over peace officers in a mixed unit. If PERB were to exercise jurisdiction over peace officers in mixed units, those officers would have “two bites at the apple” meaning they could seek a PERB remedy and if unsatisfactory, could also file a charge in court. This is a bad policy outcome that we do not believe was intended when peace officers, generally, were excluded from PERB’s jurisdiction. CSAC awaits the outcome of this case and will keep counties apprised of the decision from PERB.
In other business, PERB approved moving forward to the Office of Administrative Law with a package of regulations related to: 1) representation and agency shop elections conducted by the State Mediation and Conciliation Service (SMCS) pursuant to the county local rules, and 2) the appealability of a Board Agent’s determination of the sufficiency of a factfinding request. For a summary of the proposed regulations please see our previous report here.
Public Safety: Death Benefits
AB 1373 (Perez) - Oppose
As Introduced on February 22, 2013
Assembly Bill 1373, by Assembly Speaker John A. Perez, would extend, for an amount of time that remains unspecified in the bill, the statute of limitations for when a claim can be filed for death benefits for dependents of a firefighter or peace officer who dies of certain occupational injuries (cancer, blood-borne infections diseases and tuberculosis). Counties will recall that Speaker Perez last year carried a substantially similar bill, AB 2451, that would have extended the statute of limitations from 240 weeks to 480 weeks; that legislation was vetoed by the Governor.
Sponsors of AB 1373 maintain that the extension in the bill remains unspecified to allow for discussions between stakeholders regarding time periods that will fairly compensate surviving dependents while maintaining the interests of public agencies to appropriately plan for potential budget obligations. At a recent meeting of the Commission on Health and Safety and Workers’ Compensation (CHSWC), a representative from Bickmore Risk Services presented a report on the potential impacts of AB 1373, concluding that, due to a lack of usable data (including data regarding cancer rates of California’s public safety officers versus the general population, survival rates since the cause of the safety officer’s death is not always cancer, and the percentage of safety officers’ cancer diagnoses that are even reported as workers’ compensation claims), any foresight into the impact of this legislation on future death benefit claim rates and, therefore, on benefit payouts made by public agencies, would be a huge assumption at most.
AB 1373 will be heard in the Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee on June 26. Counties are encouraged to oppose the bill.
SB 556 (Corbett) - Oppose
As Amended on June 19, 2013
Senate Bill 556, by Senator Ellen Corbett, would prohibit contractors that perform labor or services for a public entity from displaying a seal, emblem, insignia, trade, brand name, or any other term, symbol, or content on a vehicle or uniform that could be interpreted as implying that the labor or services are being provided by employees of the public agency, unless specific disclosure requirements are followed.
Counties will recall a substantially similiar bill authored last year by Assembly Member Bonnie Lowenthal, which CSAC also opposed as the bill places a significant financial burden on private businesses that contract with public agencies, a cost that will likely be shifted to the public entity that contracts for the service. Further, we are unaware of any problems – in general or specifically – associated with a private contractor wearing a similar uniform or having a similar vehicle that cause confusion for the public and necessitate a need for this change in law.
SB 556 will be heard in the Assembly Judiciary Committee on June 25.