Wednesday, April 25, 2012

PERB: Peace Officers Can Choose Mixed Unit or Peace Officers-only Unit

In SEIU Local 1021 v. County of Calaveras (Calaveras County Public Safety Employees Association) (April 18, 2012) PERB Decision No. 2252-M, PERB held that "while MMBA section 3508(a) grants peace officers the affirmative right to join or participate in peace-officer only units, nothing in that section requires peace officers to exercise this right nor prohibits them from being in mixed units if they so choose."

Government Code section 3508(a) allows peace officers to select representation in a peace officer-only bargaining unit.  It reads in part, "the governing body may not prohibit the right of its employees who are full-time "peace officers"... to join or participate in employee organizations which are composed solely of these peace officers."  In Calaveras County, county rules went further and required "Peace officers and limited term peace officers must be represented in separate units composed solely of such peace officers."

The Calaveras County Public Safety Employees Association defended their right to have a mixed unit.  CCPSEA is like many public safety labor unions that include both peace officers and other public safety professionals like correctional officers, dispatchers, evidence technicians, and code enforcement officers.  PERB decided the local rules prohibiting mixed units violated the MMBA.  The decision clarifies that peace officers have the right to have mixed units if they want to, while preserving their right to have peace officer-only units if they so choose.