PERB Clarifies Effects-Bargaining Burdens for Unions and Employers

In Rio Hondo Community College Dist. (2013) PERB Dec. No. 2313, the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) clarified the process whereby a Union requests to bargain over the effects of certain employer decisions.  The case involved a school district’s decision to install surveillance cameras in a new learning center.  PERB ultimately concluded that the school district unlawfully refused to bargain with the Union over the effects of the decision.

When a Union seeks to bargain over the effects of certain employer decision, the Union must clearly identify the negotiable areas of impact (i.e. subjects that are within the scope of the representation), and clearly indicate its desire to bargain over the effects of the decision (as opposed to the decision itself).  At that point, under Rio Hondo, an employer has three options: (1) bargain with the Union; (2) ask the Union to clarify the negotiable areas of impact and/or justify its belief that the anticipated effects of the decision are subject to negotiation; or (3) refuse to bargain.  PERB cautioned that an employer refuses to bargain “at its peril if its refusal is later determined to be unjustified.”

While it is encouraging that PERB now requires employers to seek clarification regarding demands to bargain over effects, Unions must be vigilant when making such requests.  PERB reiterated a Union must (1) clearly request to negotiate; (2) clearly indicate that it wishes to negotiate over the effects of a decision (as opposed to the decision itself); (3) focus its demand to bargain on areas that are subject to negotiation under the law; and (4) clearly indicate the negotiable areas of bargaining.

By, Jake White

Legal Developments