Decision 2361M – County of Merced
Decision Date: March 25, 2014
Decision Type: PERB Decision
Description: The ALJ concluded that employer interfered with employees’ rights when it threatened to discipline a union president unless he disclosed the identity of a bargaining unit member that informed the union and its attorney during a meeting of the union’s executive board of a possible safety issue at one of employer’s facilities.
Disposition: Decision affirmed. Employer interfered with union president’s exercise of rights protected under the MMBA when its agent ordered him to reveal the name of the bargaining unit member who informed the union of his safety concerns during a meeting of the union’s executive board.
Perc Vol: 38
Perc Index: 140
300.01000 – In General
Reporting safety concerns to an exclusive representative is protected activity.
400.01000 – In General; Standards
Since unlawful motivation is not an element of an interference claim, the employer’s knowledge of whether or not it was interfering with employees’ rights under the MMBA is of no relevance. Whether or not commanders knew, or should have known, that they were interfering with rights protected under the MMBA is of no consequence to our analysis. Even the County’s version of what employee told commanders, together with the plain language of union attorney’s letter, were sufficient for the ALJ to determine that a reasonable person would conclude that the jail yard fight incident was the subject of an internal union discussion and the department’s repeated inquiry interfered with employee rights. Employer conduct which tends to chill reporting of concerns to union representatives interferes with employee and union rights.
402.01000 – In General
The harm to employee’s and union’s rights lies in the potential chilling effect the employer’s interrogation of employee regarding identity of employee informant has on employees’ discussions with their union representative about matters protected under the MMBA. The County interfered with employee’s exercise of rights protected under the MMBA when its agents ordered employee to reveal the name of the bargaining unit member who informed the union of his safety concerns arising from the jail yard fight.