Monday, January 21, 2013

PERB Reaffirms Employers Must Negotiate Number of Affected Employees in Layoffs

In Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System (2012) PERB Dec. No. 2298-M, the Public Employment Relations Board reaffirmed and elaborated about employers' duty to negotiate with unions about layoffs related to labor costs.

PERB has held employers do not have to negotiate about the decision to layoff.  However, employers still have a duty to meet and confer with unions about the implementation, impacts, and effects of a layoff.  Some of the established layoff effects are post-layoff workload and safety and conditions of remaining employees.  This case clarifies what counts as implementation and impacts that the employer must meet and confer about.

Here, the employer initially said it wanted to layoff 79 people "at the end of the year."  The union demanded to meet and confer over the timing, number, identity of the employees to be laid off.  The employer claimed it did not have to meet and confer about those details, asserting a "management prerogative."  PERB rejected that claim.  PERB explained "the implementation (timing of the layoff, and the number and identity of  employees to be laid off) and the impact and effects on remaining employees, including workload and safety, were mandatory subjects for meeting and conferring prior to the implementation of the layoff."  As a result, PERB decided the union stated a prima facie case for an unfair labor practice.