Cal. Faculty Assn. v. PERB (3rd District Court of Appeal, Case No. C054725) (Issued on 2/28/08)
The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the California Faculty Association (CFA) and the California State University (CSU) contains a provision on parking fees. Upon payment of the negotiated parking fee, members of the unit—primarily faculty members—were historically allowed to park in any campus parking lot. In 2001 and 2002, CSU built additional parking structures at its Northridge and Sacramento campuses. Because CSU self-funds parking, it asked all its employee unions to agree to higher parking fees to fund construction of the new parking structures. While some unions agreed, CFA refused to re-open its MOU to negotiate higher parking fees. In response, CSU prohibited CFA members from parking in the new structures. CFA then filed an unfair practice charge alleging that it was an unfair practice to prohibit its members from parking in the new structures where previously they were allowed to park in any campus parking lot. The PERB administrative law judge hearing the matter agreed and found that CSU had committed an unfair practice.
The Board, however, declined to adopt the ALJ’s proposed decision. Instead, the Board found that the location where employees are allowed to park on campus does not involve the ‘employment relationship,’ and therefore is not a matter within the scope of representation. As a result, the Board held that CSU had no duty to bargain its decision to bar CFA members from parking in the new structures. CFA then challenged PERB’s decision in the court of appeal.
In finding the Board’s decision “clearly erroneous,” the court relied heavily on Ford Motor Co. v. NLRB (1979) 441 U.S. 488 (Ford) and the Board’s own precedent in Statewide University Police Association v. Regents of the University of California (1983) PERB Dec. No. 356-H (Regents). In Ford, the Supreme Court held that where an employer chooses to make available a system of in-plant feeding facilities for his employees, the prices at which food is offered and other aspects of this service may reasonably be considered among those subjects about which management and union must bargain. In Regents, the Board held that parking fees—as opposed to location—was also within the scope of representation. The court found these two cases persuasive and questioned why the Board was “deviating from its own precedents without explanation.” Accordingly, the court held that the location of employee parking is a subject within the scope of representation. (The court then remanded the case to the Board for a determination as to the other elements necessary to establish an unlawful unilateral change).
Although CFA prevailed in court, it may find this to be a Pyrrhic victory. Based on the facts set forth in the decision, what CSU proposed seemed reasonable. Parking had always been self-funded. CSU wanted to build additional parking structures—which would benefit employees—but needed parking fees to increase to pay for the construction. Apparently, all the other unions agreed to the fee increases except CFA. Eventually, CFA’s MOU will expire. When it does it’s a safe bet that one of CSU’s proposals will be an increase in fees. Quite possible, those new fees may be higher for CFA than what it could have negotiated in 2001 and 2002.