EMPLOYER INTERFERENCE, RESTRAINT, COERCION; DEFENSES – Business Necessity
Single Topic for Decision 2770M
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409.01000 – Business Necessity
Employer failed to show a valid business necessity justifying its decision to grant an incumbent union’s request for copies of competing union’s decertification petition proof of support documents, which tends to interfere with protected rights. The request did not establish incumbent union’s ultimate right to the requested documents. Rather, it triggered employer’s duty to assess the request and respond lawfully. Where a union’s request is presumptively relevant but would invade legally protected confidentiality or privacy interests, the employer must bargain with the requesting union to accommodate the union’s interest in the information and the legally protected privacy right. In such negotiations, narrowly tailored redactions can be an appropriate solution, if privacy rights outweigh the union’s need for the redacted information. Here, the employer did not engage in discussions with either union over the incumbent union’s request for proof of support documents, and the record does not reveal that the employer attempted to weigh countervailing interests. Moreover, the incumbent union did not have a need for the documents that outweighed employee confidentiality interests. Proof of support is a unique type of statement supporting a union, which labor law principles have long protected, both in the private sector and in the California public sector since the Legislature enacted a bill to reverse San Juan Unified School District (1977) EERB Decision No. 12.