Employee Relations 06/28/2013
The following legislation was heard this week. Counties are encouraged to weigh in with their legislative representatives.
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 is now awaiting a vote on the Senate Floor.
SB 313 (de Leon) - Oppose
As Amended on April 24, 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.
CSAC is concerned that SB 313 could restrict management’s ability to appropriately discipline peace officers. The bill failed passage in the Assembly Public Safety Committee on Tuesday, but was granted reconsideration and will be heard again on July 2.
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 is now awaiting a vote on the Senate Floor
AB 537 (Bonta) – Oppose
As Amended on June 17, 2013
Assembly Bill 537, by Assembly Member Rob Bonta, would prohibit 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. Additionally, the bill would requires that if a tentative agreement is reached by the authorized representatives of the public agency and a recognized employee organization or recognized employee organizations, that agreement must be presented to the governing body for determination and the governing body then has 30 days to reject the tentative agreement or it will be considered adopted. 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.
The bill makes three changes related to arbitration:
- Applies the provisions of the California Arbitration Act to the enforcement of arbitration agreements under the MMBA;
- Prohibits a rejection of a request for arbitration due to procedural challenges (timelines, failure to exhaust pre-arbitration remedies); and,
- Makes an agreement to arbitrate a dispute enforceable, even if the conduct in question may also constitute an unfair labor practice.
Additionally, AB 537 requires parties to “meet and confer” over
local rules rather than “consultation” and subjects an impasse
over local rules to factfinding procedures.
AB 537 is now awaiting a hearing in the Senate Appropriations Committee. Counties are encouraged to oppose the bill.
AB 616 (Boacanegra) – Oppose
As Amended on June 17, 2013
Assembly Bill 616, by Assembly Member Raul Bocanegra, would allow either an employer or an employee representative to seek a determination from the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) as to whether the parties have reached impasse during labor negotiations and would extend the timeline for an employee representative to submit a dispute to factfinding.
CSAC is opposed to AB 616. Creating a new process for determining whether impasse has been reached, rather than allowing local rules to dictate, adds an unnecessary administrative layer to the collective bargaining process that will result in delays and costs to both PERB and counties. Additionally, extending the time period from 30 to 60 days for the submission of differences to a factfinding panel will do nothing more than lengthen the negotiating period to the benefit of the party interested in maintaining the status quo.
AB 616 awaits a hearing in the Senate Appropriations Committee.
AB 218 (Dickinson) - Oppose
As Amended on April 10, 2013
Assembly Bill 218, by Assembly Member Roger Dickinson, would, beginning July 1, 2014, prohibit state agencies and cities, counties, and special districts from asking an applicant for employment to disclose information regarding their conviction history, including on any initial employment application, until the agency determines that the applicant meets minimum qualifications for the position. The bill would exempt law enforcement positions from this requirement.
Counties will recall that Assembly Member Dickinson carried a substantially similar bill in the 2011-2012 legislative session, AB 1831. That bill, which was held in the Senate Governance and Finance Committee and only applied to cities and counties. Like AB 1831, CSAC opposes AB 218 because it would remove a county’s discretion to design an employment policy that works locally.
AB 218 will next be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee on July 2.