On April 26, 2014, PERB held factfinding applies to single-issue disputes as well as negotiations for memorandums of understanding ("MOU") in County of Contra Costa. This important point of contention will likely be resolved by appellate courts in other recent cases considering the same issue.
In County of Contra Costa, AFSCME Local 2700 ("Association") and the County of Contra Costa ("County") negotiated over creating a legal clerk classification. The parties reached agreement on all issues except the pay rate for employees in the classification. The parties declared impasse in early September 2013. On September 25, 2013, the Association filed a request for factfinding under MMBA section 3505.4 with the Office of the General Counsel.
The County opposed the Association's request for factfinding and argued requests for factfinding only apply to bargaining disputes arising after negotiations for an MOU, not single-issue bargaining disputes. The Board heard the County's appeal and approved the Association's request for factfinding. The Board held factfinding procedures apply to any bargaining impasse over negotiable terms and conditions of employment, not only impasse over new or successor MOUs.
PERB recognizes the legislative intent behind AB 646 was to "prevent agencies from rushing through the motions of the meet-and-confer process to unilaterally impose the agency's goals and agenda." If factfinding only applies to disputes over an MOU, agencies could avoid factfinding by splintering negotiations over terms and conditions of employment during the term of the MOU. This practice would be detrimental to the bargaining process.