Update: PERB continues to hold that factfinding may be invoked when impasse is reached in a “single-issue” dispute
As we have noted, the Riverside County case pending in the Court of Appeal concerns whether a Union can invoke “factfinding” under the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act (which covers employees of cities, counties, and many other public agencies) when impasse is reached after a Union and employer have met and conferred over an issue—other than a new or successor contract. Under an amendment to the law which went into effect in 2012, when impasse is reached, an employee organization may invoke factfinding, if it chooses. Factfinding is a process in which a panel, including a chairperson appointed by PERB, makes findings of fact and recommendations for settlement. Some public employers contend that a Union’s ability to elect factfinding applies only to bargaining for a full contract—not to a meet and confer over a single issue.
In the recent case of County of Contra Costa, PERB continues to hold that the right to invoke factfinding applies to bargaining over single issues (sometimes called “meet and confers”), not only to bargaining over a new or successor contract. PERB notes that the law provides that factfinding is available for “differences” and “disputes,” not just full contract bargaining. In addition, even before 2012, there has been a long history of factfinding in the public school bargaining context in California, and it has always applied to single-issue disputes, in addition to full contract bargaining.
The Riverside County case is still being litigated in the Court of Appeal, but in the meantime, factfinding continues to be an option when impasse is reached in a single-issue dispute. Additionally, Assembly Bill 2126 seeks to amend the MMBA to clarify that the factfinding right is (and has been) intended to apply to “single issue” meet and confer disputes.
For more information, please contact your labor law counsel.By Anne Yen | May 6, 2014