New Law Mandates Union Access to New Employee Orientation In Public Sector
July 3, 2017 by Susan Garea
AB 119 AB 119 (codified at California Government Code §§ 3555-3559) requires California’s public employers to provide unions mandatory access to new bargaining unit employees at orientation. It also requires the prompt provision of contact information for new and existing unit employees. This new law is effective immediately.
Public employers must now provide an exclusive union representative at least 10 days’ advance notice of a new employee orientation, though the parties can negotiate a different notice requirement, and reasonable access to the orientations. The “structure, time, and manner” of the access to the orientations is left to the parties to negotiate.
If the parties cannot reach agreement on access details, the dispute is subject to mandatory interest arbitration. If the dispute has not been resolved within 45 days after the first negotiation session or 60 days after the request to negotiate, either party can demand interest arbitration, the cost of which will be split by the parties. The interest arbitrator is empowered to issue a final and binding decision.
The interest arbitrator’s decision must provide the union with reasonable access to new employee orientations and will consider various factors, including, the access provided in comparable public agencies and access provisions in collective bargaining agreements.
If, upon the statute’s effective date, the parties have an existing collective bargaining agreement, the Union may either reopen the contract to negotiate on this issue or negotiate a side letter or similar agreement regarding access to new employee orientations.
Additionally, the public employer must provide the exclusive union representative with the name, job title, department, work location, work, home and personal cell phone numbers, personal email address and home address on file with the employer of any newly hired employee (within 30 days of the date of hire or first pay period of the month following hire). The employer must provide that information for all employees in the unit at least every 120 days unless the parties agree to more frequent provision.
With another challenge to public sector union agency fees pending in the 7th Circuit, the issue is likely to again reach a Supreme Court, which now has a conservative majority. Public sector unions in California may well lose the right to require non-members in the bargaining unit — who benefit from the union contract and who the union is required to represent — to pay their fair share for the costs of union representation. It is a crucial time for public sector unions to recruit members and this is an important tool.
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