Public Sector Employees

AB 237:  New Public Employee Health Protection Act protects health care coverage while public employees participate in strikes
The Public Employee Health Protection Act adds Government Code sections 3140-3142 and provides that while a public employee participates in an authorized strike, it is an unfair labor practice for a public employer to (i) fail to maintain and pay for the same level of health care coverage as if the employee continued to work during the strike; (ii) fail to collect and remit the employee’s contributions, if any; or (iii) threaten to do either of the foregoing.  It is also an unfair labor practice for a public employer to have a policy purporting to authorize any of the above actions.

This law applies to “any public employer, including, but not limited to,” the State itself, cities, counties, special districts covered by the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act, public school and community college employers under the Educational Employment Relations Act, public universities under the Higher Education Employer-Employee Relations Act, the California trial courts, and the California Judicial Council.  An “authorized strike” is one that is sanctioned by the central labor council or by the membership of an employee organization that represents the striking employees, or one that is engaged in by unrepresented employees.  The Public Employment Relations Board would have jurisdiction over any violations of the Act.

SB 270: Imposes penalties on public employers who fail to provide bargaining unit information
This bill provides that a public employer may be subject to up to $10,000 in Unfair Practice penalties if it violates its duty to provide specified information to a recognized Union about workers in the bargaining units it represents.  The required information includes periodic reports of the names, contact information, job titles, and work location of bargaining unit members, and other information as provided in Cal. Government Code section 3558.

AB 1048: Requires labor negotiations for inclusion of bargaining unit members employed at the Alameda Health System Hospital Authority (AHS) in ACERA
The Alameda Health System Hospital Authority (Hospital Authority) manages and controls the Alameda Health System (AHS).  Existing law prohibits an AHS employee from qualifying for membership in the Alameda County Employees’ Retirement Association (ACERA) if the employee did not qualify at that time the provisions creating the Hospital Authority went into effect.  This means that San Leandro Hospital employees were categorically excluded from the ACERA retirement system. AB 1048 partially repeals this prohibition so that, now, unionized employees have the possibility of becoming members of the ACERA retirement system.  Under the bill, a request to meet and confer by a Union would reopen an effective memorandum of understanding for the purpose of negotiating the inclusion of certain bargaining unit members in the ACERA.  A Union may do so during the period between the effective date of this Act and the expiration of a memorandum of understanding.

Weinberg Roger and Rosenfeld participated in the drafting of AB 1048.

SB 598: Establishes PERB as the enforcing agency for Sacramento Regional Transit District
SB 598 confers upon Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) the jurisdiction to enforce the Public Utility Code’s labor provisions applicable to the Sacramento Regional Transit District.  As a result of SB 598, a union is now authorized to move bargaining units to the jurisdiction of PERB for the adjudication of complaints of unfair labor practices. In order to move a bargaining unit under PERB unfair labor practice jurisdiction, the union must submit a request to the PERB Office of General Counsel. That decision to be covered by PERB unfair labor practice jurisdiction is irrevocable for that bargaining unit.

Weinberg Roger and Rosenfeld assisted in the drafting process for SB 598.

AB 275:  Adjusts minimum and maximum probationary periods for community college district classified employees
“Classified” staff at a school or community college districts are those who do not need teaching credentials, such as food service, janitorial, maintenance, secretaries, and instructional assistants.  Staff who need certificates or credentials are “certificated” employees, such as teachers, librarians, counselors, psychologists, and principals.  Currently, classified employees of a non-merit system community college district can be required to serve a probationary period of up to one (1) year before the district deems them permanent employees.  This bill shortens the maximum probationary period to six months or 130 days of paid service, whichever is longer, except for full-time peace officers and public safety dispatchers.  The probationary period for peace officers and public safety dispatchers must be not less than one year of paid service from their date of appointment to the full-time position.

“Merit system” refers to a system of personnel management in the Education Code, for school and community college districts that have adopted the merit system.  One way that merit system districts can be identified is because they have Personnel Commissions.  Currently, in a merit system community college district, a probationary period can be up to six months or 130 days of paid service, whichever is longer, except that the personnel commission may establish a probationary period up to one year for executive, administrative, or police classes.  This bill requires that full-time peace officers and public safety dispatchers must serve in a probationary status for not less than one year from their date of appointment to that full-time position.

The changes in this bill do not apply to a conflicting collective bargaining agreement entered into before January 1, 2022, until the expiration or renewal of that collective bargaining agreement.

AB 438: Expands rights to notice and hearing for classified school district employees
AB 438 changes the requirements surrounding notice and hearing requirements related to layoffs for classified, non-certificated positions at school districts and community college districts.  The bill provides permanent classified school employees with the same rights in this context as certificated employees of school districts, including teachers and administrators, and academic employees of community college districts. 
Under the new law, if classified positions must be eliminated as a result of the expiration of a specially funded program, districts must provide written notice of the layoff date and certain rights be given to the classified employees not less than 60 days before the effective layoff date.  Further, if the Legislature extends any additional rights to notice or hearing as to layoffs to certificated or academic employees after January 1, 2021, those rights must be extended to permanent classified employees by their respective school district or community college district employers.

In expanding rights to notice and giving an opportunity for hearing, this law removes a certain degree of uncertainty that accompanies many classified positions in our school and community college districts, and will stop the practice of surprise layoffs for classified workers occupying a specially funded position.

AB 1550: Protects union rights of University of California employees
The Higher Education Employer-Employee Relations Act currently specifies that the only appropriate representation units that include members of the Academic Senate of the University of California are either a single statewide unit consisting of all eligible members of the senate, or divisional units consisting of all eligible members of a division of the senate.  AB 1550 protects the bargaining rights of UC employees by ensuring that bargaining unit members who were represented by a Union will continue to be represented by that Union even if the UC moves their job classification to the Academic Senate.

AB 615: Provides right to appeal discipline for medical and dental interns and residents
This new law requires employers covered by the Higher Education Employer-Employee Relations Act, such as the University of California and the California State University, to establish a procedure for medical and dental interns and residents, persons in accredited resident physician subspecialty programs, and other postgraduate medical and dental trainees, to appeal disciplinary actions (including termination of employment) to a neutral third party.

If the employee is covered by a collective bargaining agreement that provides for arbitration to a neutral for such discipline, that procedure is satisfactory and controls over the requirements of AB 615.

December 16, 2021

Legal Developments