Mark Janus v. AFSCME: Oral Argument Highlights

The Supreme Court held oral argument in the Janus v. AFSCME case this morning.  A transcript of the oral argument can be found here. Overall, the argument was very similar to the one held in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association last year. Here are some highlights of the questions and answers:

How are union agency fees any different than student activities fees or bar association fees? (Questions from Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor) William Messenger, the attorney for Mark Janus, responded that compelling state interests justify these other types of fees, but not for union agency fees.

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PERB Issues 2016-17 Annual Report

PERB has released its annual report for fiscal year 2016-2017. (The report is available here.)  Here is my annual summary of the statistics in the report:

Unfair Practice Charges

672 unfair practice charges (UPCs) were filed in fiscal year 2016-17. In fiscal year 2015-2016, there were 652 UPCs. This means fiscal year 2016-17 saw a 3.1% increase in UPCs compared to the prior year.  The changes under the various statutes were generally minor: The Dills Act saw a 13.2% increase (increase to 60 from 53). EERA saw a 1.7% increase in UPCs (increase to 240 from 236). HEERA saw an 8% increase (increase to 81 from 75). The Trial Court Act saw an increase to 15 UPCs from 9 the prior year, while the Interpreter Act saw a decrease from 4 UPCs the prior year to 1.

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Governor Signs AB 1008: “Bans the Box” For All Employers

In 2013, the Governor signed AB 218 which “banned the box” on employment applications asking for criminal conviction information. AB 218 added Labor Code section 432.9 which prohibits state and local agencies from asking an applicant to disclose conviction history until the agency has determined the applicant meets the minimum employment qualifications for the job.

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Judicial Council Employer-Employee Relations Act is Enacted

The Legislature has expanded PERB's jurisdiction again. On October 15, 2017, the Governor signed AB 83, the "Judicial Council Employer-Employee Relations Act." This new act allows for the unionization of Judicial Council employees, who are distinct from trial court employees. Cases under this new act will be designated with the letter "J".  Example: SA-CE-0001-J.    

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Governor Signs SB 285: Prohibits Discouraging Union Membership

On October 7, 2017, the Governor signed SB 285 which provides that, “A public employer shall not deter or discourage public employees from becoming or remaining members of an employee organization.” Currently, Government Code section 16645.6 provides that, “A public employer receiving state funds shall not use any of those funds to assist, promote, or deter union organizing.”  According to the author of SB 285, the loophole in Government Code section 16645.6 is that it only prohibits discouraging the unionization of unrepresented employees, and not whether individual employees should join the union once it is established.  SB 285 is meant…

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