Monday, August 18, 2014

PERB Rules City of Palo Alto Failed to Meet and Consult Over Impasse Procedure Modification

On August 6, 2014, PERB issued a decision in City of Palo Alto. This ruling is significant for public employees for two reasons. First, the decision confirms that meet and consult obligations under Government Code section 3507 the same as the meet and confer obligations under section 3505. Second, this holding expands the meet and confer obligations to impasse rules and procedures.

In mid-July 2010, the City of Palo Alto proposed to repeal interest arbitration procedures in the City Charter for police and firefighter employees. The City planned to place the measure on the ballot for voters. International Association of FireFighters, Local 1319, AFL-CIO representatives demanded to meet and confer with the City about the rule modifications. The City refused to meet with Local 1319. The City claimed interest arbitration was a permissive, not a mandatory, subject of bargaining and the meet and confer obligations did not apply. Instead, the City offered to address Local 1319 representatives' concerns during the public comment periods at its regular public meetings. After holding public meetings, the City approved the measure to repeal interest arbitration from negotiation procedures.

PERB held the City failed to meet and consult in good faith under section 3507 by refusing to meet with Local 1319. PERB held the duty to consult under section 3507 is the same as the meet and confer duties under section 3505. Section 3507 requires public agencies to provide reasonable written notice to each employee organization affected by the proposed agency rule or modification, and afford each organization a reasonable opportunity to meet and discuss the rule before adoption. The parties must meet and confer for a reasonable period of time and attempt to reach an agreement. While the Supreme Court, PERB, and California courts do not require employers to meet and confer regarding impasse procedures under section 3505, employers must meet and consult on these subjects under section 3507.