SB 609: Requires Board Decision in 180 Days in Representation Cases

SB 609 was introduced by Senator Negrete McLeod on February 17, 2011. Under SB 609, PERB would have 180 days to issue a decision in an appeal of an Administrative Law Judge’s decision in a representation case (ie. requests for recognition, unit modification, severance, decertification, etc.).  Currently, there are no time limits governing how long PERB has to issue a decision on any matter before the Board.

Comments:

  1. This bill is obviously aimed at shortening the time its takes to get a final decision from PERB.  In years past, it could take up to two years for the Board to issue a decision on an appeal of an ALJ’s proposed decision. However, that was when the Board’s docket of cases approached 150. Currently, the Board has a docket of about 50-60 cases. So today I think the longest delays are at the initial charge processing stage rather than at the Board.
  2. Although the Board can take up to two years (or more in some isolated cases) to issue a decision, it has always prioritized representation cases.  I do not know how many cases, if any, there have been where the Board took more than 180 days to issue a decision in a representation case. I suspect there must be at least one, which is what prompted this bill.
  3. Although I support the goal of this bill, I’m concerned with the way it is written because it does not provide any exceptions and singles out representation cases for priority.  Under this bill, the 180 days would run from the date the appeal is filed. However, this doesn’t take into account that after an appeal is filed there is briefing that must be done. Sometimes a transcript must be prepared.  As an example of unanticipated delay, during the last budget impasse PERB was unable to pay for transcription services until the budget was passed which caused a delay in the processing of cases at the Board level.  None of these factors would be taken into account under this bill.
  4. As mentioned, I am absolutely in favor of PERB having timelines for the issuance of decisions.  My preference would be for PERB to issue its own regulations setting forth timelines rather than having those timelines set in statute.  My recommendation to PERB would be to have a timeline of 90 days to issue a decision in an appeal of a dismissal and 180 days to issue a decision in an appeal of an ALJ decision. I would apply these timelines to all cases, not just representation ones. Contrary to SB 609, I would run the timelines from when a case is placed on the Board’s docket (ie. after briefing is complete) instead of when an appeal is filed.
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