Decision 2160E – Sonoma County Office of Education

SF-CE-2813-E

Decision Date: February 1, 2011

Decision Type: PERB Decision

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Perc Vol: 35
Perc Index: 33

Decision Headnotes

602.00000 – EMPLOYER REFUSAL TO BARGAIN IN GOOD FAITH; UNILATERAL CHANGE (FOR NEGOT OF SPECIFIC SUBJECTS, SEE SEC 1000, SCOPE OF REPRESENTATION)
602.01000 – In General

Charge failed to state a prima facie case of unlawful unilateral change when the employer deducted the amount of a health benefits premium increase from employees’ paychecks during negotiations following expiration of the collective bargaining agreement. The expired agreement set the employer’s contribution rate; it did not require the employer to maintain a certain level of health benefits. Thus, the employer did not alter the status quo by failing to pay the premium increase.

602.00000 – EMPLOYER REFUSAL TO BARGAIN IN GOOD FAITH; UNILATERAL CHANGE (FOR NEGOT OF SPECIFIC SUBJECTS, SEE SEC 1000, SCOPE OF REPRESENTATION)
602.06000 – Change in Past Practice

Charge failed to establish a past practice that the employer paid 100% of employees’ health benefit premiums. The collective bargaining agreement set the employer’s premium contribution rate at 100% of a particular health plan’s rate; it did not require the employer to maintain a certain level of health benefits. Nor did the employer pay 100% of premiums for every possible plan offered to employees. Accordingly, the employer did not make an unlawful unilateral change when it deducted the amount of a health benefits premium increase from employees’ paychecks during negotiations following expiration of the agreement.

608.00000 – EMPLOYER REFUSAL TO BARGAIN IN GOOD FAITH; DEFENSES
608.05000 – Past Practice; Maintenance of Status Quo

Charge failed to state a prima facie case of unlawful unilateral change when the employer deducted the amount of a health benefits premium increase from employees’ paychecks during negotiations following expiration of the collective bargaining agreement. The expired agreement set the employer’s contribution rate; it did not require the employer to maintain a certain level of health benefits. Thus, the employer did not alter the status quo by failing to pay the premium increase.

1404.00000 – GENERAL LEGAL PRINCIPLES; CONTRACT ENFORCEMENT/ INTERPRETATION
1404.03000 – General Principles of Contract Interpretation

Traditional rules of contract law guide PERB’s interpretation of a collective bargaining agreement. PERB need not go beyond the plain language of the contract when the charging party has not alleged facts, such as bargaining history or the parties’ past practice, showing that contract language is susceptible to another interpretation,. The plain language of the collective bargaining agreement set the employer’s health benefits premium contribution rate at 100% of a particular health plan’s rate; it did not require the employer to maintain a certain level of health benefits. The charge failed to allege any facts showing that the parties gave the language anything other than its ordinary meaning. Accordingly, the employer did not make an unlawful unilateral change when it deducted the amount of a health benefits premium increase from employees’ paychecks during negotiations following expiration of the agreement.