District’s Ability to Regulate “Politcal Speech” is Limited

Desert Community College District (PERB Case No. 1921-E) (8/10/07)PERB held that a community college district violated the EducationalEmployment Relations Act (EERA) when it attempted to prohibit one of its unions from discussing a Board of Trustees election at a union meeting held on campus.The key issue was whether the district’s conduct was justified by the Education Code, specifically sections 7054 and 7055. Section 7054 prohibits the use of district "funds, services, supplies, or equipment" to support or oppose ballot measures and/or candidates. PERB found this language inapplicable since the union was using the district’s “facilities.” PERB also found section 7055…

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50% Participation Rule Deemed Unreasonable

County of Imperial (PERB Dec. No. 1916M) (Issued 6/28/07)At issue in this case was a local rule requiring that in a representation election, a majority of the employees in the bargaining unit must vote in order for the vote to be valid. PERB held that the rule was “unreasonable” under the MMBA. In reaching its decision, PERB compared the language of MMBA section 3507.l (a) and 3502.5(d). The former section states that a majority of votes cast in representation elections is required, not that a majority of employees must vote. In the latter section - governing rescission elections - the…

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Retirement Health Benefits for Current Employees Negotiable

Madera Unified School District (PERB Dec. No. 1907E) (Issued 5/25/07)Under the statutes administered by PERB, it has been generally understood that retirement benefits for current employees are within the scope of representation and thus must be negotiated. Benefits affecting current retirees, however, have been understood to be a permissive topic of bargaining.In this case, the union alleged that the employer unilaterally changed the way it calculated its monetary contribution towards health care for retirees. The Board agent dismissed the charge on the ground that the alleged change did not affect any current employees and any changes to the benefits of…

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Right of Individual Representation Restored Under EERA

On June 28, 2007, the Governor signed AB 1194 (Karnette) which restores language in EERA section 3543 granting individuals a protected right of representation. In 2000, for reasons never explained (in reality, it was most likely a careless drafting error), the Legislature deleted the following language from EERA when it approved unrelated amendments:Public school employees shall also have the right to refuse to join or participate in the activities of employee organizations and shall have the right to represent themselves individually in their employment relations with the public school employer, except that once the employees in an appropriate unit have…

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Washington’s ‘Paycheck Protection’ Law is Constitutional

Davenport v. Washington Ed. Assn. (US 05-1589 and 05-1657) (Decided by Supreme Court on 6-14-07) Washington State allows public-sector unions to charge nonmembers an agency fee equivalent to membership dues and to have the employer collect that fee through payroll deductions. An initiative approved by state voters requires a union to obtain the nonmembers’ affirmative authorization before using their fees for election-related purposes. The issue before the Supreme Court was whether requiring unions to obtain affirmative authorization violated the Constitution. The Supreme Court held that it does not violate the First Amendment for a State to require its public-sector unions…

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