California Supreme Court decides public employers must provide employee contact information to Unions

The California Supreme Court unanimously ruled that public sector employers must provide Unions with contact information for all workers represented by the Union.

In County of Los Angeles v. Los Angeles County Employee Relations Commission (ERCOM), the Court held that, because “[l]ong-standing case law and public policy support direct communication between unions and the employees they represent,” Unions are entitled to obtain the home addresses and phone numbers of all represented employees, including those who have not joined the Union.

In this case, the Union, SEIU Local 721, asked the County of Los Angeles to provide contact information for all County employees represented by the Union, including those that were not members of SEIU Local 721.  The County refused.  In response, the Union filed an unfair labor practice charge.  The Los Angeles County Employee Relations Commission (ERCOM) found that, in refusing to provide the information, the County had in fact engaged in an unfair labor practice.  The County sought judicial review, and the case was eventually appealed to the California Supreme Court.  The Supreme Court heard oral argument on March 5, and issued its unanimous decision last Thursday, May 30.

The ruling is an important victory for all public-sector Unions.  It is vitally important that a Union be able to freely communicate with the workers it represents (e.g. to provide bargaining updates, information about grievances that may affect them, information about Union elections, job promotional opportunities, eligibility for and availability of benefits, etc.).  By requiring disclosure of contact information to Unions, the Supreme Court insures Unions will be able fulfill their representational duties to all represented-employees, regardless of their membership status.

David A. Rosenfeld and Alan G. Crowley of Weinberg Roger & Rosenfeld argued the case on behalf of the Union to the Supreme Court.  The full text of the decision can be found here.

By Jake White | June 4, 2013

Legal Developments