MMBA 2014: Update II
Last year, the California legislature amended the MMBA (Meyers-Milias-Brown Act), the collective bargaining statute applicable to most local public agencies, to clarify that a court should not refuse to grant a petition to compel arbitration simply because one party to the memorandum of understanding contends that the conduct in question arguably constitutes an unfair practice subject to PERB jurisdiction. In other words, if an employer violates a provision in the contract that requires it to “meet and confer,” a Union must be permitted to pursue a grievance and not be restricted to filing a “refusal to bargain” charge with PERB.
The same bill also codified long-standing California and federal precedent (such as the Steelworker Trilogy), which holds that a party may not refuse to send a dispute to arbitration because it believes the procedural requirements have not been met. All procedural defenses should be presented to the arbitrator.
The new statute also codifies PERB’s deferral procedure. Under the deferral procedure, if an MOU between the parties has final and binding arbitration and the dispute is clearly covered by that arbitration procedure, PERB may defer the charge to arbitration.
Lastly, this new statute arguably creates PERB unfair practice jurisdiction over claims that an employer has refused to arbitrate a grievance. For more information on these changes to the MMBA, please contact your labor counsel.
By Rob Szykowny | February 26, 2014