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410.01100 – Content of Communication

Several days after the rival nonexclusive representative announced its organizing campaign to the school district and in response to concerns that the district was showing clear favoritism toward the existing nonexclusive representative, an associate superintendent stated that the existing nonexclusive representative had served as advocates and representatives for teachers. The associate superintendent also said the school district’s close relationship with the preferred nonexclusive representative is simply a fact of how business has been conducted at the district. Then the superintendent sent an e-mail to employees crediting the existing nonexclusive representative with securing a $4,000 one-time payment to employees, and recommending a salary increase, a two-day decrease of duty days, and increased school district contributions to healthcare premiums. (pp. 30-31.) The content of these communications tends, in several ways, to influence employees’ choice whether or not to authorize representation by the rival nonexclusive representative. First, they create the impression that the existing nonexclusive representative is already the teachers’ established bargaining representative, causing teachers to doubt the rival nonexclusive representative’s status as a legitimate employee organization. Second, the communications suggest that it is the existing nonexclusive representative, not the rival nonexclusive representative, that can achieve better working conditions for teachers because of its close relationship with school district administration. Third, the communications evince the school district’s animus toward unionization. According to a historical school district document, which is given to newly-hired teachers and posted in the school district’s boardroom, the school district is proud to not have collective bargaining. Additionally, teachers reported hearing of a principal telling teachers that if employees signed in support of the rival nonexclusive representative’s petition, and if the area superintendent found out, he would transfer employees to a particular school site where students with behavioral issues are sent. (pp. 32-33.) The school district’s communications, viewed as a whole, tended to influence employee choice about whether or not to authorize representation by the rival nonexclusive representative by strongly suggesting that unionization is against the school district’s longstanding viewpoint and has no place when the existing nonexclusive representative provides the representation the rival nonexclusive representative could provide. Based solely on the content of the communications, reasonable cause existed to believe the school district violated PEDD section 3550. (p. 33.)