Public Sector Unions May Use Agency Fees for National Litigation Expenses

Locke v. Karass (U.S. Supreme Court, Case 07-610) (Issued on 1/21/09)Nonmembers (fair share fee payers) of a union local brought suit claiming that the First Amendment prohibits charging them for any portion of the service fee the local union pays the national that represents litigation conducted by the national union that does not directly benefit the local (what the court called “national litigation.”)The Supreme Court held that under the First Amendment, “a local union may charge a nonmember an appropriate share of its contribution to a national’s litigation expenses if (1) the subject matter of the national litigation bears an…

Read More

Who is an “Employee”

San Francisco Unified School District (2009) PERB Decision No. 2000-E (Issued on 1/20/09)A former employee of the San Francisco Unified School District (District) filed an unfair practice charge seeking salary benefits that were awarded retroactively in a MOU entered into by the District and Union after he left his employment. The Board affirmed the dismissal, finding that, “In order to have standing to file an unfair practice charge under EERA, a charging party must have been an employee, employee organization, or employer at the time of the alleged unfair practice.” Because the charging party was not an employee at the…

Read More

Court Finds Employee Letter Protected; Overturns PERB Decision

California Teachers Association v. Public Employment Relations Board (Journey Charter School) (2008) __ Cal.App.4th __ (Issued on 1/5/09)CTA appealed the Board’s decision in Journey Charter School (2008) PERB Decision No. 1945-E. The underlying unfair practice alleged that Journey Charter School (school) terminated the employment of three teachers in retaliation for their organizing efforts. The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) sustained the allegations. The Board rejected the ALJ’s proposed decision and instead found that that the teachers were not terminated for their organizing efforts, but rather for a letter they sent to the parents of children at the school complaining about the…

Read More

When a Change Is Not a Unilateral Change

Service Employees International Union, Local 1000, CSEA (2008) PERB Decision No. 1997-S (Issued on 12/22/08)In July 2005, certified nurse assistants at the Chula Vista Veterans Home engaged in a “sick-out.” The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the State of California (State) and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU)—which represented the nurse assistants—contained a no-strike clause. Soon after the sick-out, the State filed an unfair practice charge alleging that SEIU committed an unlawful unilateral change by condoning the sick-out in violation of the MOU.The key issue at hearing was whether there actually was a concerted “sick-out,” and if so, whether SEIU…

Read More

Don’t Get Burned by the “Cat’s Paw” Doctrine

City of Modesto (2008) PERB Decision No. 1994-M (Issued on 12/19/08) and Regents of the University of California (Los Angeles) (2008) PERB Decision No. 1995-H (Issued on 12/19/08)Last week PERB issued two decisions involving allegations of retaliation against employees for protected union activity. In both City of Modesto and Regents of the University of California, the Board applied the existing retaliation standard to dismiss the unfair practice charges. What is worth noting, however, is that both decisions discussed an important legal concept that many employers still don’t fully understand: “subordinate bias liability” or what employment lawyers commonly refer to as…

Read More