Decision 2485E – Petaluma City Elementary School District/Joint Union High School District

SF-CE-3091-E

Decision Date: June 30, 2016

Decision Type: PERB Decision

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Perc Vol: 41
Perc Index: 23

Decision Headnotes

300.00000 – UNFAIR PRACTICE ISSUES; PROTECTED ACTIVITIES
300.01000 – In General

Right of employees under EERA section 3543, subdivision (a), to participate in activities of employee organizations does not include absolute right to attend negotiations between the exclusive representative and the public school employer. By enacting EERA section 3549.1, the Legislature intended that negotiations would be attended only by the parties’ designated representatives, absent an agreement or established practice to the contrary. pp. 29-34. Similar to union access and released time for employee representatives, PERB regards employee rights to communicate, solicit and distribute information at work as encompassing both statutory rights and negotiable matters. The statutory right of employees to be represented by employee organizations generally includes the right to communicate with one another about working conditions, to show allegiance to the organizations of their choice and to express solidarity with other employees for the purpose of representation or for other mutual aid or protection.

300.00000 – UNFAIR PRACTICE ISSUES; PROTECTED ACTIVITIES
300.04000 – Individual/Concerted/Activities/Self-Representation

Right of employees under EERA section 3543, subdivision (a), to participate in activities of employee organizations does not include absolute right to attend negotiations between the exclusive representative and the public school employer. By enacting EERA section 3549.1, the Legislature intended that negotiations would be attended only by the parties’ designated representatives, absent an agreement or established practice to the contrary. pp. 29-34.

300.00000 – UNFAIR PRACTICE ISSUES; PROTECTED ACTIVITIES
300.10000 – Solicitation/Organizing

Similar to union access and released time for employee representatives, PERB regards employee rights to communicate, solicit and distribute information at work as encompassing both statutory rights and negotiable matters. A categorical prohibition against distributing literature or other means of communication states a prima facie case of employer interference with fundamental rights of employee organizations to represent and communicate with employees and of employees to self-organize and communicate with one another in the workplace.

300.00000 – UNFAIR PRACTICE ISSUES; PROTECTED ACTIVITIES
300.11000 – Distribution of Literature

Similar to union access and released time for employee representatives, PERB regards employee rights to communicate, solicit and distribute information at work as encompassing both statutory rights and negotiable matters. A categorical prohibition against distributing literature or other means of communication states a prima facie case of employer interference with fundamental rights of employee organizations to represent and communicate with employees and of employees to self-organize and communicate with one another in the workplace.

300.00000 – UNFAIR PRACTICE ISSUES; PROTECTED ACTIVITIES
300.15000 – Speech

Similar to union access and released time for employee representatives, PERB regards employee rights to communicate, solicit and distribute information at work as encompassing both statutory rights and negotiable matters. The statutory right of employees to be represented by employee organizations generally includes the right to communicate with one another about working conditions, to show allegiance to the organizations of their choice and to express solidarity with other employees for the purpose of representation or for other mutual aid or protection. A categorical prohibition against distributing literature or other means of communication states a prima facie case of employer interference with fundamental rights of employee organizations to represent and communicate with employees and of employees to self-organize and communicate with one another in the workplace.

401.00000 – EMPLOYER INTERFERENCE, RESTRAINT, COERCION, EMPLOYER CONDUCT AFFECTING ORGANIZING, UNION ACCESS; SOLICITATION, AND OTHER UNION RIGHTS
401.01000 – In General; Prima Facie Case.

Allegation that public school employer specifically prohibited distribution of “union” information during the 30 minutes before the start of the regular work day stated prima facie allegation of employer interference with protected employee and organizational rights because it was overbroad in its categorical ban on distributing flyers at any time during the workday, without regard to off-duty time, such as employee meal or rest breaks. Allegation that public school employer promulgated, maintained and enforced policy which expressly singled out for prohibition materials of a “union” content at anytime and anywhere in the workplace stated prima facie case of employer conduct that is inherently destructive of protected employee and organizational rights. Although the employer’s representative allegedly clarified that its e-mail message stating a categorical ban on distributing union literature was intended to address questions from school principals and “was not intended to be shared with staff,” school district did not rebut prima facie case where it never claimed to have publicly and unequivocally disavowed either any inadvertent distribution of the message to teachers or its enforcement by one school principal. Additionally, unless an affirmative defense is established on undisputed facts as a matter of law, it will not rebut a prima facie case at the charge investigation stage of PERB’s unfair practice proceedings.

401.00000 – EMPLOYER INTERFERENCE, RESTRAINT, COERCION, EMPLOYER CONDUCT AFFECTING ORGANIZING, UNION ACCESS; SOLICITATION, AND OTHER UNION RIGHTS
401.03000 – Ban on Distribution or Solicitation

Allegation that public school employer specifically prohibited distribution of “union” information during the 30 minutes before the start of the regular work day stated prima facie allegation of employer interference with protected employee and organizational rights because it was overbroad in its categorical ban on distributing flyers at any time during the workday, without regard to off-duty time, such as employee meal or rest breaks. Allegation that public school employer promulgated, maintained and enforced policy whereby employees must be off school property when they hand out union literature stated prima facie allegation of employer interference with protected employee and organizational rights. Blanket geographic ban on solicitation, distribution and access rights is overly broad in that it fails to account for the fact that not all time spent on the employer’s premises is “on duty” or otherwise subject to employer restrictions on union or other concerted employee activity. Legitimate employer concerns of ensuring order, production or discipline in work areas are inapplicable in parking lots, breakrooms, staff lounges or other non-work areas. Allegation that public school employer promulgated, maintained and enforced policy specifically prohibiting employees from distributing materials of “a political or union nature” stated prima facie allegation of employer interference with protected employee and organizational rights by making impermissible content-based restriction. Because the degree of intrusion into an employer’s property or managerial interests does not vary with the content of the material distributed, an employer’s only legitimate interest in regulating such conduct is in preventing employees from bringing literature onto its premises and distributing it there — not in choosing which messages to condone or suppress. In addition to non-work areas, once the employer has opened up other parts of the workplace as a forum for some forms of non-work related speech or expressive conduct, it is generally not free to ban other non-disruptive speech or conduct based solely on its content.

401.00000 – EMPLOYER INTERFERENCE, RESTRAINT, COERCION, EMPLOYER CONDUCT AFFECTING ORGANIZING, UNION ACCESS; SOLICITATION, AND OTHER UNION RIGHTS
401.04000 – Access – Union Right

Allegation that public school employer specifically prohibited distribution of “union” information during the 30 minutes before the start of the regular work day stated prima facie allegation of employer interference with protected employee and organizational rights because it was overbroad in its categorical ban on distributing flyers at any time during the workday, without regard to off-duty time, such as employee meal or rest breaks.

401.00000 – EMPLOYER INTERFERENCE, RESTRAINT, COERCION, EMPLOYER CONDUCT AFFECTING ORGANIZING, UNION ACCESS; SOLICITATION, AND OTHER UNION RIGHTS
401.05000 – Union Activity During Nonworking Time or in Nonworking Areas

Allegation that public school employer specifically prohibited distribution of “union” information during the 30 minutes before the start of the regular work day stated prima facie allegation of employer interference with protected employee and organizational rights because it was overbroad in its categorical ban on distributing flyers at any time during the workday, without regard to off-duty time, such as employee meal or rest breaks. Allegation that public school employer promulgated, maintained and enforced policy whereby employees must be off school property when they hand out union literature stated prima facie allegation of employer interference with protected employee and organizational rights. Blanket geographic ban on solicitation, distribution and access rights is overly broad in that it fails to account for the fact that not all time spent on the employer’s premises is “on duty” or otherwise subject to employer restrictions on union or other concerted employee activity. Legitimate employer concerns of ensuring order, production or discipline in work areas are inapplicable in parking lots, breakrooms, staff lounges or other non-work areas. Allegation that public school employer promulgated, maintained and enforced policy specifically prohibiting employees from distributing materials of “a political or union nature” stated prima facie allegation of employer interference with protected employee and organizational rights by making impermissible content-based restriction. Because the degree of intrusion into an employer’s property or managerial interests does not vary with the content of the material distributed, an employer’s only legitimate interest in regulating such conduct is in preventing employees from bringing literature onto its premises and distributing it there — not in choosing which messages to condone or suppress. In addition to non-work areas, once the employer has opened up other parts of the workplace as a forum for some forms of non-work related speech or expressive conduct, it is generally not free to ban other non-disruptive speech or conduct based solely on its content. Allegation that public school employer specifically prohibited distribution of “union” information during the 30 minutes before the start of the regular work day stated prima facie allegation of employer interference with protected employee and organizational rights because it was overbroad in its categorical ban on distributing flyers at any time during the workday, without regard to off-duty time, such as employee meal or rest breaks. Allegation that public school employer promulgated, maintained and enforced policy whereby employees must be off school property when they hand out union literature stated prima facie allegation of employer interference with protected employee and organizational rights. Blanket geographic ban on solicitation, distribution and access rights is overly broad in that it fails to account for the fact that not all time spent on the employer’s premises is “on duty” or otherwise subject to employer restrictions on union or other concerted employee activity. Legitimate employer concerns of ensuring order, production or discipline in work areas are inapplicable in parking lots, breakrooms, staff lounges or other non-work areas.

409.00000 – EMPLOYER INTERFERENCE, RESTRAINT, COERCION; DEFENSES
409.01000 – Business Necessity

Allegation that public school employer promulgated, maintained and enforced policy specifically prohibiting employees from distributing materials of “a political or union nature” stated prima facie allegation of employer interference with protected employee and organizational rights by making impermissible content-based restriction. Because the degree of intrusion into an employer’s property or managerial interests does not vary with the content of the material distributed, an employer’s only legitimate interest in regulating such conduct is in preventing employees from bringing literature onto its premises and distributing it there — not in choosing which messages to condone or suppress. In addition to non-work areas, once the employer has opened up other parts of the workplace as a forum for some forms of non-work related speech or expressive conduct, it is generally not free to ban other non-disruptive speech or conduct based solely on its content.

409.00000 – EMPLOYER INTERFERENCE, RESTRAINT, COERCION; DEFENSES
409.03000 – Discontinuance of Illegal Activity; Retraction; Repudiation; Public Disavowal

Although the employer’s representative allegedly clarified that its e-mail message stating a categorical ban on distributing union literature was intended to address questions from school principals and “was not intended to be shared with staff,” school district did not rebut prima facie case where it never claimed to have publicly and unequivocally disavowed either any inadvertent distribution of the message to teachers or its enforcement by one school principal. Additionally, unless an affirmative defense is established on undisputed facts as a matter of law, it will not rebut a prima facie case at the charge investigation stage of PERB’s unfair practice proceedings.

601.00000 – EMPLOYER REFUSAL TO BARGAIN IN GOOD FAITH; REFUSAL TO BARGAIN IN GOOD FAITH (FOR SPECIFIC SUBJECTS, SEE SCOPE OF REPRESENTATION, SEC 1000)
601.01000 – In General, Per Se and Totality of Conduct; Prima Facie Case

Although charging party alleged several recognized “indicia” of bad faith, the charge failed to state a prima facie case that the public school employer had engaged in surface bargaining where the charge allegations demonstrated that the charging party’s own conduct of refusing to meet for negotiations unless employee observers were permitted to attend so frustrated negotiations that it precluded consideration of whether the public school employer had bargained in good faith.

601.00000 – EMPLOYER REFUSAL TO BARGAIN IN GOOD FAITH; REFUSAL TO BARGAIN IN GOOD FAITH (FOR SPECIFIC SUBJECTS, SEE SCOPE OF REPRESENTATION, SEC 1000)
601.02000 – Persons Required to Bargain; Alter Egos, Joint Employers (See also 201)

By enacting EERA section 3549.1, the Legislature intended that negotiations would be attended only by the parties’ representatives, absent an agreement or established practice to the contrary.

603.00000 – EMPLOYER REFUSAL TO BARGAIN IN GOOD FAITH; BYPASSING EXCLUSIVE REP
603.01000 – In General

Legislative preference for collective bargaining through exclusive representation generally prohibits employer from presenting its bargaining proposals to employees instead of to their designated representatives. By enacting EERA section 3549.1, the Legislature intended that negotiations would be attended only by the parties’ representatives, absent an agreement or established practice to the contrary.

603.00000 – EMPLOYER REFUSAL TO BARGAIN IN GOOD FAITH; BYPASSING EXCLUSIVE REP
603.03000 – Usurping the Role of Union as Rep; Employer Speaking to or on Behalf of Employees

Legislative preference for collective bargaining through exclusive representation generally prohibits employer from presenting its bargaining proposals to employees instead of to their designated representatives. By enacting EERA section 3549.1, the Legislature intended that negotiations would be attended only by the parties’ representatives, absent an agreement or established practice to the contrary.

603.00000 – EMPLOYER REFUSAL TO BARGAIN IN GOOD FAITH; BYPASSING EXCLUSIVE REP
603.04000 – Circumvention of Union; Direct Dealing With Employees

Legislative preference for collective bargaining through exclusive representation generally prohibits employer from presenting its bargaining proposals to employees instead of to their designated representatives. By enacting EERA section 3549.1, the Legislature intended that negotiations would be attended only by the parties’ representatives, absent an agreement or established practice to the contrary.

604.00000 – EMPLOYER REFUSAL TO BARGAIN IN GOOD FAITH; REFUSAL TO PROVIDE INFORMATION
604.01000 – In General

In determining whether a party has unreasonably delayed in responding to a request for presumptively relevant and necessary information, the responding party must exercise the same degree of diligence and thoroughness as it would in other business affairs of importance. Charging party stated a prima facie case that a public school employer had unreasonably delayed providing information by allegedly failing, without explanation, to provide charging party with certain information pertaining to unit members’ wages and benefits for six weeks. Fact that parties were not meeting during the six-week period because of a separate dispute over ground rules to negotiations did not, as a matter of law, excuse public school employer’s failure to provide information or advise employees’ representative that the information was not immediately available, since information was necessary and relevant for evaluating proposals and preparing counterproposals, even in the absence of in-person meetings. In the absence of any contemporaneous explanation by the District for its six-week delay in providing presumptively relevant information, charging party alleged sufficient facts to state a prima facie case that employer unreasonably delayed providing information. Charging party failed to state a prima facie violation of EERA section 3543.5, which makes it unlawful for a public school employer to “[k]nowingly provid[e] an exclusive representative with inaccurate information, whether or not in response to a request for information, regarding the financial resources of the public school employer.” Although the school district provided three different financial scenarios based on different budgetary assumptions, the fact that the information or the manner in which it was presented was confusing or unpersuasive did not either that any difficulty or confusion was deliberate (as alleged in the charge), or that the information was necessarily inaccurate.

605.00000 – EMPLOYER REFUSAL TO BARGAIN IN GOOD FAITH; OTHER PER SE VIOLATIONS
605.01000 – Outright Refusal to Bargain

By enacting EERA section 3549.1, the Legislature intended that negotiations would be attended only by the parties’ representatives, absent an agreement or established practice to the contrary. To the extent a public school employer insists on a policy of excluding employee observers from negotiations, it was simply following the statutory default rule for negotiations, and not unlawfully refusing to meet and negotiate. pp. 29-34; 34-37.

605.00000 – EMPLOYER REFUSAL TO BARGAIN IN GOOD FAITH; OTHER PER SE VIOLATIONS
605.02000 – Insistence on Nonmandatory/Illegal Subjects (See also Scope of Representation, Sec 1000)

By enacting EERA section 3549.1, the Legislature intended that negotiations would be attended only by the parties’ representatives, absent an agreement or established practice to the contrary. To the extent a public school employer insists on a policy of excluding employee observers from negotiations, it was simply following the statutory default rule for negotiations, and not unlawfully insisting on or conditioning negotiations on a non-mandatory subject of bargaining. pp. 29-34; 34-37.

605.00000 – EMPLOYER REFUSAL TO BARGAIN IN GOOD FAITH; OTHER PER SE VIOLATIONS
605.04000 – Conditional Bargaining

By enacting EERA section 3549.1, the Legislature intended that negotiations would be attended only by the parties’ representatives, absent an agreement or established practice to the contrary. To the extent a public school employer insists on a policy of excluding employee observers from negotiations, it was simply following the statutory default rule for negotiations, and not unlawfully insisting on or conditioning negotiations on a non-mandatory subject of bargaining. pp. 29-34; 34-37.

605.00000 – EMPLOYER REFUSAL TO BARGAIN IN GOOD FAITH; OTHER PER SE VIOLATIONS
605.05000 – Other

Charging party failed to state a prima facie violation of EERA section 3543.5, which makes it unlawful for a public school employer to “[k]nowingly provid[e] an exclusive representative with inaccurate information, whether or not in response to a request for information, regarding the financial resources of the public school employer.” Although the school district provided three different financial scenarios based on different budgetary assumptions, the fact that the information or the manner in which it was presented was confusing or unpersuasive did not either that any difficulty or confusion was deliberate (as alleged in the charge), or that the information was necessarily inaccurate.

606.00000 – EMPLOYER REFUSAL TO BARGAIN IN GOOD FAITH; NEGOTIATIONS; INDICIA OF SURFACE OR BAD FAITH BARGAINING; TOTALITY OF CIRCUMSTANCES
606.01000 – In General

Although charging party alleged several recognized “indicia” of bad faith, the charge failed to state a prima facie case that the public school employer had engaged in surface bargaining where the charge allegations demonstrated that the charging party’s own conduct of refusing to meet for negotiations unless employee observers were permitted to attend so frustrated negotiations that it precluded consideration of whether the public school employer had bargained in good faith.

608.00000 – EMPLOYER REFUSAL TO BARGAIN IN GOOD FAITH; DEFENSES
608.01000 – In General

Although charging party alleged several recognized “indicia” of bad faith, the charge failed to state a prima facie case that the public school employer had engaged in surface bargaining where the charge allegations demonstrated that the charging party’s own conduct of refusing to meet for negotiations unless employee observers were permitted to attend so frustrated negotiations that it precluded consideration of whether the public school employer had bargained in good faith.

608.00000 – EMPLOYER REFUSAL TO BARGAIN IN GOOD FAITH; DEFENSES
608.02000 – Union Bad Faith, Delay, Unreasonable or Unlawful Demands, Violence or Misconduct

Although charging party alleged several recognized “indicia” of bad faith, the charge failed to state a prima facie case that the public school employer had engaged in surface bargaining where the charge allegations demonstrated that the charging party’s own conduct of refusing to meet for negotiations unless employee observers were permitted to attend so frustrated negotiations that it precluded consideration of whether the public school employer had bargained in good faith.

1000.00000 – SCOPE OF REPRESENTATION
1000.01000 – In General; Test for Subjects Not Specifically Enumerated

By enacting EERA section 3549.1, the Legislature intended that negotiations would be attended only by the parties’ representatives, absent an agreement or established practice to the contrary. To the extent a public school employer insists on a policy of excluding employee observers from negotiations, it was simply following the statutory default rule for negotiations, and not unlawfully refusing to meet and negotiate.

1000.00000 – SCOPE OF REPRESENTATION
1000.02058 – Ground Rules for Negotiations

By enacting EERA section 3549.1, the Legislature intended that negotiations would be attended only by the parties’ representatives, absent an agreement or established practice to the contrary. To the extent a public school employer insists on a policy of excluding employee observers from negotiations, it was simply following the statutory default rule for negotiations, and not unlawfully refusing to meet and negotiate.

1000.00000 – SCOPE OF REPRESENTATION
1000.02047 – Exclusive Representative

By enacting EERA section 3549.1, the Legislature intended that negotiations would be attended only by the parties’ representatives, absent an agreement or established practice to the contrary. To the extent a public school employer insists on a policy of excluding employee observers from negotiations, it was simply following the statutory default rule for negotiations, and not unlawfully refusing to meet and negotiate.

1000.00000 – SCOPE OF REPRESENTATION
1000.02090 – Negotiations, Arrangements, and Procedures

By enacting EERA section 3549.1, the Legislature intended that negotiations would be attended only by the parties’ representatives, absent an agreement or established practice to the contrary. To the extent a public school employer insists on a policy of excluding employee observers from negotiations, it was simply following the statutory default rule for negotiations, and not unlawfully refusing to meet and negotiate.

1000.00000 – SCOPE OF REPRESENTATION
1000.02021 – Classroom Size

Where charging party alleged three instances in which employee observers were permitted to attend negotiations but the circumstances differed substantially in these instances, charging party failed to allege sufficient facts to show an established practice of permitting employees to attend negotiations. Generally, a one-time occurrence is not enough to show an established practice.

1100.00000 – CASE PROCESSING PROCEDURES; CHARGE
1100.01000 – In General/Prima Facie Case

An unfair practice charge should not be dismissed without a hearing, based on an affirmative defense not raised during the investigation of the charge. p. 52.

1100.00000 – CASE PROCESSING PROCEDURES; CHARGE
1100.02000 – Investigation of Charge

An unfair practice charge should not be dismissed without a hearing, based on an affirmative defense not raised during the investigation of the charge. p. 52.

1100.00000 – CASE PROCESSING PROCEDURES; CHARGE
1100.05000 – Dismissal of Charge; Appeal

An unfair practice charge should not be dismissed without a hearing, based on an affirmative defense not raised during the investigation of the charge. p. 52.

1109.00000 – CASE PROCESSING PROCEDURES; ISSUES ON APPEAL
1109.01000 – In General

Although charging party’s appeal did little more than reiterate the factual allegations of the charge and advanced no argument or authority that was not already considered and addressed by the Office of the General Counsel’s investigation of the charge, in arguing that the Office of the General Counsel reached the wrong conclusion based on the factual allegations, i.e., incorrectly applied the law to the factual allegations included in the charge, the appeal substantially complied with the requirement that the appeal place the Board and the respondent on notice of the issues, by identifying the substance of the dismissal and the specific issue(s) of fact, law, or application of law to fact, from which appeal is taken. A contrary rule would preclude the Board from reviewing a dismissal, even when the decision was manifestly incorrect.

1100.00000 – CASE PROCESSING PROCEDURES; CHARGE
1100.11000 – Response to Charge

An unfair practice charge should not be dismissed without a hearing, based on an affirmative defense not raised during the investigation of the charge. p. 52.