PERB Issues 2007-2008 Annual Report

PERB recently released its annual report for fiscal year 2007-2008. (The report is available by clicking here.) Here are some highlights:

Unfair Practice Charges

816 unfair practice charges (UPCs) were filed in fiscal year 2007-08. This was just slightly less than the 823 UPCs filed in 2006-07. Since PERB assumed jurisdiction over the MMBA in 2001, UPCs have been averaging over 800 a year, roughly double the number before 2001.

Interestingly, in 2007-08 the number of UPCs filed actually decreased under the MMBA, EERA, and HEERA. The Dills Act, however, saw a dramatic increase from 71 to 137 UPCs. This is likely due to the fact that almost all the unions for the State of California are currently in negotiations.

For 2008-09, I expect the number of UPCs filed to rise again due to the difficult economy. Negotiations are always more difficult in bad economic times; and difficult negotiations tend to spawn UPCs. Also, many public sector employers will be looking to reduce costs through layoffs, furloughs, and salary and benefit reductions—all of which will likely result in more UPCs. Finally, we are seeing a dramatic increase in the number of work actions being taken against public entities. That will likely increase the number of UPCs and requests for injunctive relief filed by employers.

ALJ Proposed Decisions

In 2007-08, the ALJs at PERB issued 44 proposed decisions; taking an average of 94 days for each decision. The number of proposed decisions issued is slightly below the average for the last six years. (See chart, below.) However, the length of time it takes to issue a decision appears to be trending upward. I suspect part of this can be explained by the fact that PERB recently hired three new ALJs to replace two that retired and one who is now a Board member. Once these new ALJs get up to full speed I believe that the time it takes to issue a decision go back down to around 6o days. Notably, back in 2002-03 and 2003-04, PERB had 6 ALJs; that went down to 5 ALJs in 2004-05. PERB now has seven ALJs.

Proposed Decisions (Average # of Days)
2007-08: 44 (94)
2006-07: 41 (85)
2005-06: 46 (100)
2004-05: 49 (63)
2003-04: 47 (53)
2002-03: 52 (53)

Board Decisions

According to PERB’s annual report, in 2007-08 the Board itself issued 65 decisions. As can be seen from the chart below, the number of decisions issued by the Board has varied dramatically from year to year since 2001.

# of Board Decisions Issued
2007-08: 65
2006-07: 87
2005-06: 80
2004-05: 142
2003-04: 141
2002-03: 87
2001-02: 67

There are a number of reasons for this variance. Turnover among Board members is always a factor. Because Board members serve staggered five-year terms, one member is termed-out each year. However, it should be noted that in 2003-04 and 2004-05—when the Board issued over 140 decisions each year—the Board only had three or four Board members. Also, the Board appears to be grappling with a large amount of litigation the past two years. According to the annual report, litigation has increased 60% in recent years. For example, PERB’s jurisdiction over strikes that threaten public health and safety has been under attack throughout the state; and there are currently three cases on this issue pending before the California Supreme Court.

I don’t expect litigation to decrease this year or the next. If anything, litigation will increase. However, since the Board now has five members, I expect that the number of decisions issued will increase next year significantly.

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