I was able to attend the PERB Advisory Committee Meeting on Tuesday, November 29th. Virtually PERB’s entire staff from all the regional offices was in attendance, so it was
great to be able to meet people whose names I see all the time. The advisory committee is open to everyone so I would certainly encourage PERB practitioners to attend any future meetings. It’s a great opportunity to meet PERB staff and fellow practitioners.
PERB Staff Reports
PERB staff gave several updates at the Advisory Committee Meeting. Here are some very brief points from each update:
- Administrative Report: PERB is cautiously optimistic that its budget will remain stable for the remaining of the year. PERB has been able to fill some long-standing vacancies in the past few months. Whether it can fill more positions in the coming months is unknown given the budget uncertainty.
- General Counsel Report: The Office of the General Counsel has hired a new supervising attorney in Glendale and a regional attorney in Oakland. The good news is that the office is making steady progress on processing the number of cases on the desks of the Board agents. Settlement rates at informal conferences are increasing and are near 50%. The office is also trying to intervene early on select injunctive relief requests by scheduling informal conferences between the parties. The office has had 12 IR requests since about May of this year and has granted one of those (in an election case).
- Administrative Law Judges Report: The ALJ’s have made great progress in reducing the time between the informal conference and hearing date. Current times are running: 3 months from informal to hearing in Sacramento; 3.5 months in Oakland, and 4.5 months in Glendale.
- Regulations: PERB is planning a comprehensive review of its regulations. Current regulations have not changed since December 2007. If anyone has any suggestions for proposed regulatory changes, please forward them to Regional Director Les Chisholm.
- Precedential Decisions: PERB wanted input on whether it should continue to make all its decisions precedential. I strongly encouraged PERB to follow other agencies and select only certain cases to be precedential. This is something I’ve been pushing for a while so I hope we may see a proposed change in regulations next year.
- Fact-finding: PERB plans to consider emergency regulations for implementing AB 646 on December 8, 2011. If anyone has comments on the current staff discussion regulations, please send PERB your comments ASAP. Staff hopes to have another discussion version by the end of this week or early next week.
- SB 609: PERB asked for input on whether the 180-day timeline applied to unfair practice charge cases, as opposed to just representational ones. There wasn’t a lot of feedback from the audience. I opined that I didn’t think unfair practice cases are covered. But I certainly wouldn’t object to PERB getting unfair practice cases out in a 180 days….
- Filing Fees: PERB asked for input on whether it should impose filing fees. Some people thought this was a good idea given PERB’s budget situation. Others were ambivalent. There certainly are procedural and due process issues with a filing fee which was noted.
Anyway, that’s a quick and dirty summary of what transpired at the meeting.