Late today PERB released its final proposed regulations implementing AB 646. (Click here for the text of the proposed regulations.) The full Board is scheduled to consider the regulations on December 8, 2011.
The great news is that PERB has proposed an outer time limit for an employee organization to request fact-finding. Under the proposed regulations, if the parties participate in mediation, the employee organization must request fact-finding no sooner than 30 days, but no later than 45 days, after the appointment of the mediator. If the parties do not participate in mediation, the employee organization must request fact-finding no later than 30 days after either party declared impasse. Although I think the 45-day time limit is slightly longer than necessary, I’m very happy that PERB agreed with many of the stakeholder comments that a time limit was necessary.
There are a couple of other things worth noting about the final proposed regulations. The regulations continue to contain a five-day period for PERB to consider whether a fact-finding request satisfies the regulatory requirements. In my opinion this five-day period is not something necessarily comprehended in the statutory language of AB 646. The final proposed regulations also continue to interpret the “five day” period of time for the parties to designate their panel members to be five “working” days. The final regulations now add that the five-day period of time for PERB to appoint a chairperson and for the parties to then appoint an alternative chairperson are also “working” days instead of calendar days. In my opinion the distinction between “working day” versus “calendar day” is not one mandated by the statutory language but I’m not necessarily opposed to interpreting the five-day period as five “working” days given the realities of the workplace.
There are also some other minor changes in the proposed final regulations that I will try to cover next week. But again, the big news is the inclusive of a time limit for an employee organization to request fact-finding.