Decision 2900M – * * * JUDICIAL APPEAL PENDING * * * County of Santa Clara


Decision Date: April 23, 2024

Decision Type: PERB Decision

Description:  The complaint alleges that the County of Santa Clara unlawfully refused to bargain with Service Employees International Union Local 521 (SEIU) before its Board of Supervisors (BOS) approved the County medical staff organization’s proposed bylaw revisions, which included new standards for SEIU-represented physician assistants to receive or maintain practice privileges at County hospitals. The administrative law judge (ALJ) found the County did not have a duty to bargain over the BOS decision to approve the bylaw revisions. However, the ALJ found the County violated its duty to bargain with SEIU, prior to the BOS vote, over the decision’s effects on terms and conditions of employment. Both parties filed exceptions.

Disposition:  The Board affirmed in part and reversed in part, finding that the County violated its bargaining duties both with respect to the BOS decision and the effects thereof. The Board held that while the County had a decision bargaining duty to the extent of its discretion, the County violated that duty when it flatly refused to bargain. As to effects bargaining, the County admitted that it had a duty to bargain certain effects, and that it refused to bargain. The Board declined the County’s request to rule that certain proposals must be off limits in effects bargaining merely because the County did not have authority to make changes without action by the medical staff organization. Finally, the Board addressed SEIU’s exceptions on remedial issues. The Board rejected SEIU’s argument that the Board should amend its make-whole remedies to include, as a matter of course, attorney fees based on hours spent successfully litigating the case before PERB. However, the Board clarified that existing make-whole principles already provide bargaining and representation related damages, including increased costs and wasted or diverted resources.

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