IMPASSE PROCEDURES; IN GENERAL; DUTY TO PARTICIPATE IN GOOD FAITH – Declaration/Determination of Impasse
Single Topic for Decision 2360M
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900.02000 – Declaration/Determination of Impasse
The lack of impasse was demonstrated by SEIU unequivocally signaling to the County that it had room to move on the negotiable issues of stewards’ pay and overtime, after SEIU had moved on its overtime proposal in a direction favorable to the County. Also, the County acknowledged in a side-bar conversation with SEIU that it looked like they were making progress on the overtime issue. The County declared impasse over comparatively minor issues that it had reason to believe SEIU would make further movement on, and set an arbitrary deadline in order to impose the elimination of step increases, not because the possibilities for compromise had been exhausted. The parties signed 18 tentative agreements on the same day the County declared impasse. The Board rejected the County’s argument that it possessed the absolute right to determine an impasse in negotiations and that its determination of impasse is unreviewable by PERB. Pursuant to PERB’s unquestioned authority to determine whether unfair practices have occurred, it necessarily has the authority to determine whether an impasse declared by either party is genuine. The lack of subjective bad faith in the negotiations leading up to the County’s impasse declaration does nothing to absolve it of liability for implementing a unilateral change in wages before impasse was genuinely reached. The Board rejected the County’s claim of economic urgency, finding that such economic exigency provides no justification for suspending the duty to bargain in good faith, and that an employer’s deadline such as the beginning of a budget year or the expiration of an MOU is not an excuse to avoid bargaining in good faith.