EMPLOYER DOMINATION OR ASSISTANCE; DOMINATION OF OR ASSISTANCE TO LABOR ORGANIZATIONS – Favoritism; Contract Ban on Distribution or Solicitation; Unequal Treatment of Unions; Preferential Access; Duty of Strict Neutrality
Single Topic for Decision I063E
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700.07000 – Favoritism; Contract Ban on Distribution or Solicitation; Unequal Treatment of Unions; Preferential Access; Duty of Strict Neutrality
In cases where two employee organizations are competing for the right to represent the same employees, the employer must remain neutral. To establish a violation of EERA section 3543.5, subdivision (d)’s prohibition on encouraging employees to join any organization in preference to another, the test is whether the employer’s conduct tends to influence free choice or provide stimulus in one direction or the other. (p. 26.) Since the rival nonexclusive representative announced its organizing campaign, the school district stopped providing a vehicle and credit card for the existing nonexclusive representative’s use, but continued to provide stipends to organization representatives, release time for executive board members, an operating budget, and use of an office. Likewise, the school district continued to maintain policies declaring that the existing nonexclusive representative is the representative of teachers, including for disciplinary matters. The school district’s survey solicited teachers’ views on the existing nonexclusive representative’s representation. The school district continued to meet with the existing nonexclusive representative about matters fundamental to the employment relationship (e.g., length of the school year, wages, health benefits), and made a significant change in benefits without first notifying or meeting with the rival nonexclusive representative. The superintendent sent an e-mail to employees announcing a $4,000 payment and informed them of a recommendation of a 5.5 percent increase to salary schedules, two fewer duty days, and an increase in the school district’s contribution to its health benefits fund. The superintendent credited these recommendations to the existing nonexclusive representative and the other organizations participating on the committee. (pp. 27-28.) Due to this conduct, the Board found that the school district preferred one nonexclusive representative over another and thus failed to maintain strict neutrality.