Decision 2087E – Santa Ana Educators Association (O'Neil, et al.)

LA-CO-1170-E

Decision Date: December 30, 2009

Decision Type: PERB Decision

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Perc Vol: 34
Perc Index: 31

Decision Headnotes

800.00000 – UNION UNFAIR PRACTICES; DUTY OF FAIR REPRESENTATION
800.01000 – In General; Prima Facie Case

In order to state a prima facie breach of the duty of fair representation by misrepresentation of facts to secure contract ratification, the charging party must show that: (1) the exclusive representative made an untrue assertion of fact (or conduct equivalent to an untrue assertion of fact); (2) the exclusive representative’s assertion was made with knowledge of its falsity; (3) the exclusive representative’s assertion was made to secure ratification of a contract; and (4) the fact misrepresented must have a substantial impact on the relationships of the unit members to their employer. However, “[a] breach of the duty will not be found where the exclusive representative is guilty of ‘mere negligence or poor judgment’.”

800.00000 – UNION UNFAIR PRACTICES; DUTY OF FAIR REPRESENTATION
800.03000 – Negotiations

In order to state a prima facie breach of the duty of fair representation by misrepresentation of facts to secure contract ratification, the charging party must show that: (1) the exclusive representative made an untrue assertion of fact (or conduct equivalent to an untrue assertion of fact); (2) the exclusive representative’s assertion was made with knowledge of its falsity; (3) the exclusive representative’s assertion was made to secure ratification of a contract; and (4) the fact misrepresented must have a substantial impact on the relationships of the unit members to their employer. However, “[a] breach of the duty will not be found where the exclusive representative is guilty of ‘mere negligence or poor judgment’.” Applying this standard, the charge failed to establish that the following statements constituted unlawful misrepresentations of fact made by a teachers’ union to its members in order to secure contract ratification: (1) that saving class size reduction depended on contract ratification; (2) that the school district faced a state takeover in lieu of bankruptcy; (3) that the collective bargaining agreement would be nullified in the event of a state takeover; (4) that there was no alternative to bailing out the District for $29 million; (5) that the District had a $15 million debt that needed to be repaid immediately; and (6) that the cost-of-living increase resulting from a ballot initiative had already been incorporated into the District’s budget projections. In addition, charge failed to allege sufficient facts to establish that union’s decision to agree to a contract with a four percent salary cut was without a rational basis or devoid of honest judgment so as to violate the duty of fair representation.

800.00000 – UNION UNFAIR PRACTICES; DUTY OF FAIR REPRESENTATION
800.04000 – Scope of Duty; Internal Union Affairs

Charge failed to establish that union violated its duty of fair representation by failing to provide members sufficient time to comment prior to holding a tentative agreement ratification election. Charge failed to demonstrate that the attempted refusal to permit one individual to speak at two informational meetings had a substantial impact on employment relationship with the District so as to violate the duty of fair representation, where employees were provided ample notice of the proposed contracts prior to the ratification vote and charging parties were not prevented from expressing their views by other means. Charge also failed to establish that union’s alleged failure to adhere to its internal rules had a substantial impact on charging parties’ employment relationship, or that any decisions were made without a rational basis or devoid of honest reason.

800.00000 – UNION UNFAIR PRACTICES; DUTY OF FAIR REPRESENTATION
800.06000 – Other

Charge failed to establish that union’s refusal to allow employees to access employer’s mailboxes for purpose of communicating with members about contract ratification had a significant effect on their employment relationship so as to violate the duty of fair representation. The right of access to employer mailboxes under EERA attaches only to the employee organization, not individual employees. In addition, there is no evidence that charging parties were prevented from communicating to members via alternative communication channels, other than the District’s mailbox system.