Monday, October 14, 2013

Governor Vetoes Union Rep-Member Privilege, Signs Bills on Brady List Protections, Bargaining, Release Time

The Governor took action on several bills affecting public safety labor rights.  The Governor vetoed AB 729, which would have protected labor leaders from having to testify about communications with members.  In his veto message, the Governor wrote, "I don't believe it is appropriate to put communications with a union agent on equal footing with communications with one's spouse, priest, physician or attorney.  Moreover, this bill could compromise the ability of employers to conduct investigations into workplace safety, harassment and other allegations."  The Governor's veto underscores the importance of connecting employees with a union lawyer on the onset of disciplinary investigations to ensure privileged communications.

The Governor also vetoed AB 1373 which would have extended the statute of limitations for survivors of public safety officers to file for death benefits related to tuberculosis, cancer, and blood-borne diseases. The bill was co-sponsored by CPF and PORAC.

The Governor signed AB 313 which amended POBR to prohibit disciplining peace officers solely because they are placed on a Brady list.  The law does not prohibit employers from disciplining peace officers for the underlying conduct which may have caused them to be put on a Brady list or considering the Brady list for determining how much discipline someone gets.  PORAC sponsored the bill. Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley), Donnelly (R-Barstow), Bill Monning (D-Santa Cruz), Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), and Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) voted against the bill.

The Governor also signed AB 537 which requires agencies to approve tentative agreements within 30 days, preventing them from delaying final ratification of contracts after the parties have TA'd at the table.  The bill also requires that if an MOU has an arbitration clause, the arbitrator- not a court or the agency- must decide if the procedural requirements for arbitration are met.

The Governor also signed AB 1181 which amended the MMBA to require employers give labor leaders reasonable time off for testifying at personnel hearings, PERB hearings, and bargaining. The MMBA already required reasonable time off for meeting and conferring.