Important California Legislation That Mitigates Some Impacts of the Janus Decision

Yesterday, June 27, 2018, Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 866 (“SB 866”).  It became effective immediately.

This California law makes significant changes to public sector payroll deductions, a public employer’s communication to employees regarding the right to join/support a Union, access by Unions to new employee orientations of public employees, and clarifies that public employers cannot deter or discourage either employees or job applicants from joining or remaining members of the Union or authorizing dues or fee deductions to an employee organization.

Payroll Deductions:

SB 866 amends various provisions of the Education Code and Government Code to require public employers to honor a public employee’s written authorization for deductions from his or her earnings to be transmitted to the Union.  It provides:

  • The employer must honor the terms of the employee’s authorization.  The employee can only revoke the authorization pursuant to the terms of the authorization s/he signed. 
  • Deductions must start the pay period after the employer receives notification of the authorization.
  • Requests to authorize dues/other deduction must be directed to the Union rather than an employer.  Requests to revoke or change the authorization must also be directed to the Union rather than an employer.  An employer must rely on the Union’s explanations regarding whether authorization/revocation/change in deductions has been requested by the employee.
  • A Union need not provide an employer a copy of the employee’s authorization unless a dispute arises about the existence or terms of the authorization.
  • A Union must indemnify the employer for any claims made regarding such deductions.

Employer Communication About Employee’s Right to Join/Support Unions:

SB 866 also added provisions regarding a public employer’s communications with employees regarding their right to join or support a Union, or not do so.  Specifically, SB 866 provides:

  • An employer must meet and confer with the exclusive bargaining representative prior to issuing a mass communication to its employees or applicants regarding the rights of employees to join or support a Union, or not do so. 
  • If the parties cannot come to agreement on content of the employer’s proposed mass communication, and the employer wishes to go forward with the mass communication, the employer must include the Union’s communication (of reasonable length) too, simultaneously. 

AB 119 Expansion:

SB 866 also expands the current law (AB 119) that gives public sector Unions the right to participate in new employee orientations by:

  • Extending coverage of AB 119 to transit employees who were previously not included.
  • Prohibiting employers from disclosing the date/time/place of the new employee orientation to anyone other than employees, the exclusive bargaining representative, and a vendor who is contracted to provide a service at the new employee orientation.

SB 285 Expansion:

Finally, SB 866 extends the existing language of SB 285 to job applicants. 

SB 866 prohibits a public employer from deterring or discouraging employees or applicants from becoming or remaining members of a Union, or from authorizing a Union to represent them or from authorizing membership status/dues deduction.
For more information, please contact your labor law counsel.

By Anthony Tucci | June 28, 2018

Legal Developments