Decision 2597E – Sacramento City Unified School District

SA-CE-2732-E

Decision Date: November 19, 2018

Decision Type: PERB Decision

Description:  Union appealed from an ALJ’s proposed decision dismissing charge. ALJ found that District considered Union’s Requests for Information (RFIs) under EERA, or, alternatively, that the District sufficiently complied with its duties under EERA when it raised privacy concerns and provided Union with redacted copies of the requested documents.  Union filed exceptions, contending that the District violated its duty to meet and negotiate in good faith when it asserted that (1) Union-requested documents were not relevant and necessary to its role as the exclusive representative of certain School District employees, and (2) the School District would assess and answer Union’s RFIs as if they were exclusively public records requests under the California Public Records Act (CPRA).

 

Disposition:  Board reversed the ALJ’s proposed decision and held that District failed to meet and negotiate in good faith when it denied that the RFIs were relevant and necessary to Union’s role as an exclusive representative under EERA, and when it proceeded to analyze and respond to the RFIs exclusively under the CPRA.

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Perc Vol: 43
Perc Index: 77

Decision Headnotes

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

Under PERB-administered statutes, an exclusive representative is entitled to all information that is necessary and relevant to discharge its representational duties. (Petaluma City Elementary School District/Joint Union High School District (2016) PERB Decision No. 2485, p. 17.) The terms “necessary” and “relevant” are interchangeable, and a charging party union meets its burden by showing that it has requested relevant information, without also having to show, separately, that the information is “necessary” to fulfilling the union’s representative function. (Id. at p. 21.) PERB uses a liberal, discovery-type standard, similar to that used by the courts, to determine relevance. (Id. at p. 16.)

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

Information pertaining to non-bargaining unit employees is not presumed relevant, and the exclusive representative thus bears the burden of demonstrating that such information is relevant and necessary to its representational duties. A union may demonstrate relevance where it has requested information that may help it compare the disciplinary circumstances relevant to a bargaining unit employee, including the allegations and any resulting discipline, with prior circumstances involving non-bargaining unit employees. (p. 9, fn. 6.)

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

When a union requests relevant information, the employer must either fully supply the information or timely and adequately explain its reasons for not doing so, and the employer bears the burden of proof as to any defense, limitation, or condition that it asserts. (pp. 8-9) A party answering a RFI must exercise the same diligence and thoroughness as it would “in other business affairs of importance,” and a charging party need not show that it suffered harm or prejudice as a result of a responding party’s lack of care. (Petaluma, supra, PERB Decision No. 2485 at pp. 19, 24.)

604.00000 – EMPLOYER REFUSAL TO BARGAIN IN GOOD FAITH; REFUSAL TO PROVIDE INFORMATION
604.05000 – Subjects of Information

Information pertaining to non-bargaining unit employees is not presumed relevant, and the exclusive representative thus bears the burden of demonstrating that such information is relevant and necessary to its representational duties. A union demonstrates relevance where it has requested information that may help it compare the disciplinary circumstances relevant to a bargaining unit employee, including the allegations and any resulting discipline, with prior circumstances involving non-bargaining unit employees. (p. 9, fn. 6.) Union had right to obtain, evaluate, and introduce evidence that arguably may have supported a disparate treatment argument, even where information pertained to a non-bargaining unit employee (p. 9.)

604.00000 – EMPLOYER REFUSAL TO BARGAIN IN GOOD FAITH; REFUSAL TO PROVIDE INFORMATION
604.04000 – Confidentiality; Privacy

Balancing test which governs those cases in which an employer and union have met and negotiated over legitimate privacy issues but were unable to reach an accommodation. (Redding, supra, PERB Decision No. 2190-M, p. 2 and adopting proposed decision, pp. 13-14 [if employer satisfies its burden of demonstrating that disclosure would compromise privacy rights, PERB engages in balancing test set forth in Detroit Edison Co. v. NLRB (1979) 440 U.S. 301, 314].) Courts interpreting the CPRA also balance privacy rights against the right to information. (See, e.g., Marken, supra, 202 Cal.App.4th at 1274-1276 [finding that the public’s interest in an investigatory report and disciplinary record outweighed a teacher’s privacy interest, but upholding the redactions directed by the superior court].) In any given instance, the balancing test applicable in CPRA cases may or may not lead to the same outcome as that applicable in PERB cases, given the extra rights and obligations that distinguish bargaining parties from members of the public. (p. 14, fn. 8.)

604.00000 – EMPLOYER REFUSAL TO BARGAIN IN GOOD FAITH; REFUSAL TO PROVIDE INFORMATION
604.04000 – Confidentiality; Privacy

When a union’s RFI seeks disclosure of information that would infringe on legally cognizable privacy rights, the employer must meet and negotiate in good faith to accommodate all legitimate competing interests. (p. 12.) When an employer and union meet and negotiate over privacy concerns, they can address all aspects of the problem, including the extent to which various levels of redaction might lessen such concerns, as well as the extent to which such redaction methods might frustrate the union in carrying out its representational function. Bargaining parties may reach a different result in each case based on the unique circumstances at issue. (pp. 12-13.)

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

When a union requests relevant information, the employer must either fully supply the information or timely and adequately explain its reasons for not doing so, and the employer bears the burden of proof as to any defense, limitation, or condition that it asserts. (pp. 8-9) A party answering a RFI must exercise the same diligence and thoroughness as it would “in other business affairs of importance,” and a charging party need not show that it suffered harm or prejudice as a result of a responding party’s lack of care. (Petaluma, supra, PERB Decision No. 2485 at pp. 19, 24.)

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

Even though the CPRA and PERB-administered collective bargaining statutes in certain respects protect overlapping rights and interests, and many unions make dual requests under both statutes, an employer must separately analyze its CPRA obligations and its obligations under the collective bargaining statutes. (p. 13.)

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

An employer, as part of its duty to fully answer a union’s request or else timely and adequately explain a valid defense to disclosure, may not rely upon a CPRA exemption in place of a defense recognized under PERB precedent. (p. 10.) A party responding to an RFI has additional duties under a collective bargaining statute that go beyond its CPRA duties. For example, if a union’s request as written (or as made orally) would lead to unduly burdensome costs, infringe on legitimate privacy interests, or otherwise pose a need for clarification or discussion, an employer must bargain in good faith with the union and seek to negotiate an appropriate accommodation. (p. 12.)

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

PERB-administered statutes provide unions with more expansive access to information and records beyond that available under the CPRA. A union’s RFI may cover both public records and information that may not be found in any existing record. Thus, an employer responding to an RFI may be required to compile information from multiple records, management agents, and other sources, unless it can prove that doing so would be unduly burdensome.

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

Information pertaining to non-bargaining unit employees is not presumed relevant, and the exclusive representative thus bears the burden of demonstrating that such information is relevant and necessary to its representational duties. A union demonstrates relevance where it has requested information that may help it compare the disciplinary circumstances relevant to a bargaining unit employee, including the allegations and any resulting discipline, with prior circumstances involving non-bargaining unit employees. (p. 9, fn. 6.) Union had right to obtain, evaluate, and introduce evidence that arguably may have supported a disparate treatment argument, even where information pertained to a non-bargaining unit employee (p. 9.)

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

An employer violates its duty to bargain in good faith if its delay in providing information is unreasonable under the circumstances, even if the delay causes no prejudice. (p. 9.)

1107.00000 – CASE PROCESSING PROCEDURES;PROCEDURES BEFORE THE BOARD
1107.06000 – De Novo Review; Standard of Review by Board

Although the Board reviews exceptions to a proposed decision de novo, the Board need not address alleged errors that have no bearing on the outcome. (Los Angeles Unified School District (2015) PERB Decision No. 2432, p. 2; Regents of the University of California (1991) PERB Decision No. 891-H, p. 4.)