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July 3, 2018 by

The Supreme Court issued its Janus decision, allowing public employees to opt out of paying fair share fees, at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time June 27. By early afternoon the same day, right wing anti-union organizations were taking action to encourage employees to stop paying fees and some public employers were already encouraging their employees to do so.

Organized labor, however, was already primed to respond. Within approximately 24 hours of the Janus decision being issued Governor Brown signed Senate Bill 866 – effective immediately – to prohibit public employers from discouraging or deterring their employees from joining unions or paying fees for collective bargaining representation. This legislation extends to public transportation agencies, which are largely exempt from California public sector labor laws, and it confers jurisdiction on PERB to remedy violations of the law.

This new legislation contains several other provisions that should be helpful in pushing back against Janus proponents. If a public employer wants to send a communication to its employees concerning their right to join (or not join) a union, the employer must first offer to meet and confer with its unions before issuing the communication. The law requires the parties to try and reach agreement on what such a communication should say, but if they cannot reach agreement, the employer is required to circulate the union’s communication on the issue along with its own.

SB 866 also requires employers to honor authorizations from their employees to withhold dues or service fees for their collective bargaining representatives, and if an employee asks an employer to revoke his or her authorization the employer is required to direct such request to the union representative for that employee.

An additional provision in the law will make it difficult for right wing groups to try and inject themselves into the new employee orientation process. A law passed last year requires public employers to give notice to exclusive bargaining representatives of new employee orientation meetings and to give them the opportunity to attend the orientation meetings and talk to the new employees. SB 866 now provides that the information concerning the time, date, and place of new employee orientations be treated as confidential and shared only with the employees and their exclusive bargaining representative.

These provisions in SB 866 should help prevent mischief-making by anti-union ideologues. If you have any questions about its requirements or the law’s enforcement mechanisms please contact our office.

The material on this website is provided by Beeson, Tayer & Bodine for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Readers should consult with their own legal counsel before acting on any of the information presented. Some of the articles are updated periodically, and are marked with the date of the last update. Again, readers should consult with their own legal counsel for the most current information and to obtain professional advice before acting on any of the information presented.