Card Check Already a Reality in California’s Public Sector

As I noted in my previous blog entry, both unions and employers are gearing up for a huge fight over the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). Because the EFCA amends the National Labor Relations Act, which does not cover the public sector, it will not directly affect California public employers. Even if it did, California public employers have been living with card check for years. In California, all the statutes covering the public sector, except for the Dills Act, require the recognition of an exclusive representative solely by a showing of majority support (ie card check). (See MMBA (Gov Code 3507.1); EERA (Gov. Code 3544; 3544.1); HEERA (Gov Code 3573; 3574 (Note: HEERA is unique in that the employer can initially challenge recognition by card check if it reasonable doubts that the union has majority support); TCEPGA (Gov Code 71636.3); TCIELRA (Gov Code 71823); TEERA (PUC Code 99564.1).)

Arguably, card check in the public sector is not that significant because the vast of majority of public sector employees in California are already unionized, and have been for years. In the private sector, the advent of card check will surely spawn a wave of organizing efforts around the country. While not all of those efforts will be successful even with card check, many of them will be. The possibility of unionizing thousands of unorganized workplaces throughout the country is why the EFCA is such a huge issue.

Also, I was reminded today that a few years ago the Legislature amended the Agricultural Labor Relations Act to provide for mandatory interest arbitration (or what the Legislature referred to as “mandatory mediation” – a misnomer if there ever was one) of the first contract after a new exclusive representative has been certified. I’m not sure how many times, if any, that law has been utilized since its enactment. But anyone wondering what the interest arbitration system under the EFCA might look like can take a look at the ALRB’s statutes and regulations to get an idea.

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