Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Michigan Voters Considering Constitutional Right to Collective Bargaining

After a string of stinging defeats at the ballot box, labor leaders in Michigan are trying to turn the tide by establishing a state constitutional right to collective bargaining.  Next Tuesday, Michigan voters will go to the polls to decide Proposal 2, which would create a state constitutional amendment locking in union rights in the state.  Proposal 2 would:
  • allow police officers and firefighters to negotiate safe staffing levels
  • establish a constitutional right to form a union and bargain collectively
  • invalidate any attempts by the state legislature to limit collective bargaining rights
  • override state laws about employees hours and conditions of employment 
  • mandate binding arbitration for some police groups
If passed, Proposal 2 would be the first of its kind in the country.  The campaign to pass Proposal 2 got a big boost earlier today, when President Clinton endorses the measure.  

Friday, October 19, 2012

Bankrupt San Bernardino Stops Payments to CalPERS

The Sacramento Bee reported today that the City of San Bernardino stopped making payments to CalPERS.  The City filed for bankruptcy protection on August 1, 2012. However, according the CalPERS "under the law of the State of California, a participating public employer in bankruptcy may not terminate its relationship with CalPERS through “rejection” of its “contract” with CalPERS in the bankruptcy proceeding."   The City's move comes on the heels of an announcement by the federal Securities and Exchange Commission that it was opening an investigation into the City's finances.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Mastagni Law to Host Webinar on New GASB Pension Rules

The Government Accounting Standards Board recently issued sweeping new guidelines for how public agencies are supposed to account for pensions.  On Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 10:00 AM, Mastagni Law labor consultant Shayleen O. Mastagni and attorneys David E. Mastagni and Jeffrey R. A. Edwards will lay out the nuts and bolts of the new GASB rules for pensions, what they really mean, what they don’t, and how it impacts labor negotiations. By debunking the myths and rumors, this webinar will empower labor leaders to navigate the tricks management is going to play to get concessions they don’t really need.

New GASB Rules for Pensions: 

What Labor Leaders Need To Know

Tuesday, November 20, 2012 10:00 AM
Registration is free.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Governor Brown Signs Password Protection Law

On September 27, 2012, Governor Brown signed AB 1844 to will protect employees’ social media usernames and passwords. This law will make California the third state in the country, after Maryland and Illinois, to protect employees in this way. Once the law goes into effect, it will be illegal for an employer to request an employee’s online account information, be it email, Facebook, or otherwise.

For the employers who decide to ignore the law and still ask for passwords, the new bill will make it illegal for the employer to take any action against an employee who refuses to give access to social networking accounts. The California law does include some special rules for when an employer may legally demand social media information. The first is for investigations. If an employee is accused of a crime or other misconduct, the employer can demand access to email or social media content if it is relevant to the investigation. The second is for electronic devices the employer provides.

If an employer gives you a computer or phone for work use, they can demand your passwords for access to those devices. This appears to be sparking a wave of workers’ rights legislation. The New Jersey legislature has already passed a similar law, and it waits for Governor Christie’s approval. A bill currently called the Password Protection Act of 2012 is also gaining traction in Congress, so we may soon have a national standard for internet privacy rights in the workplace.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Brown Vetoes Limits on Cooperation with ICE

Governor Jerry Brown vetoed AB 1081, the so-called "Trust Act," which would have limited local law enforcement's ability to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement in local correctional facilities.  The bill sought to prohibit local law enforcement from honoring ICE holds unless the suspect is charged or has been convicted of certain "serious" or "violent" felonies.  In his veto message, the Governor noted the law would prohibit honoring holds on many suspects whose crimes involved child abuse, drug trafficking, selling weapons, using children to sell drugs, and gang activity.

Court of Appeal Rules Administrative Hearing Officers May Hear Pitchess Motions in Peace Officer Discipline Cases

In Riverside County Sheriff’s Department v. Jan Stiglitz (September 28, 2012) 2012 WL 4466333, the Court of Appeal decided peace officers can obtain Pitchess discovery in an administrative hearing provided under POBR. The case started after the Riverside County Sheriff's Department fired a correctional deputy for falsifying her time records. The officer appealed her termination. She asserted that the penalty of termination was disproportionate. She asked the hearing officer for discovery of disciplinary records of other Department personnel who had been investigated or disciplined for similar misconduct. After the hearing officer granted the request, the Department went to court to stop it.

The Court ruled Pitchess discovery is available in a Section 3304(b) administrative hearing if it is relevant. The Court reasoned that POBR entitles officers to a full evidentiary hearing, including relevant discovery. The Court decided that though the Evidence Code sections codifying the Pitchess process were ambiguous, they do not preclude administrative hearing officers from considering requests for peace officers' personnel files under some circumstances.