Decision A485M – County of Santa Clara

SF-CE-1688-M

Decision Date: March 2, 2021

Decision Type: PERB Decision

Description:  A Board agent deferred SEIU’s unfair practice charge to arbitration and placed the charge in abeyance pending the completion of arbitration proceedings. SEIU appealed the Board agent’s decision to the Board.

 

Disposition:  The Board granted the appeal and remanded the charge to the Office of the General Counsel for further investigation. The Board clarified that deferral to arbitration is not appropriate unless all factually and legally interrelated allegations in the charge are subject to deferral. The Board found deferral was not appropriate because all of the charge allegations arose from the same core set of facts and one of the allegations, direct dealing, was not appropriate for deferral under the circumstances.

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Decision Headnotes

102.00000 – PERB: OPERATION, JURISDICTION, AUTHORITY; SCOPE OF PERB JURISDICTION
102.01000 – In General/Exclusive Initial Jurisdiction-Deferral to Arbitration; Deference by Reviewing Courts

When considering whether to defer an unfair practice charge to arbitration, PERB applies a three-part test: (1) whether the dispute arises within a stable collective bargaining relationship; (2) whether the respondent is willing to waive contract-based procedural defenses to the grievance or arbitration and is willing to arbitrate the dispute; and (3) whether the contract and its meaning lie at the center of the dispute. (p. 6.) The contract and its meaning lie at the center of the dispute when (1) the alleged unfair practice is arguably prohibited by the collective bargaining agreement and (2) resolution of the contractual issue must necessarily resolve the merits of the unfair practice allegation. (p. 8.) Deferral is not appropriate unless all factually or legally interrelated allegations are subject to deferral. (pp. 9-12.) The Board concluded the charge was not subject to deferral because, while three of four factually interrelated allegations met the criteria for deferral, the fourth allegation did not. (pp. 12-23.)

1102.00000 – CASE PROCESSING PROCEDURES; DEFERRAL TO ARBITRATION
1102.01000 – Pre-Arbitration

When considering whether to defer an unfair practice charge to arbitration, PERB applies a three-part test: (1) whether the dispute arises within a stable collective bargaining relationship; (2) whether the respondent is willing to waive contract-based procedural defenses to the grievance or arbitration and is willing to arbitrate the dispute; and (3) whether the contract and its meaning lie at the center of the dispute. (p. 6.) The contract and its meaning lie at the center of the dispute when (1) the alleged unfair practice is arguably prohibited by the collective bargaining agreement and (2) resolution of the contractual issue must necessarily resolve the merits of the unfair practice allegation. (p. 8.) PERB determines the appropriateness of deferring an allegation on a case-by-case basis by focusing on whether an arbitrator would necessarily have to resolve the statutory unfair practice allegation. (p. 18.) Deferral is not appropriate unless all factually or legally interrelated allegations are subject to deferral. (pp. 9-12.) The Board concluded the charge was not subject to deferral because, while three of four factually interrelated allegations met the criteria for deferral, the fourth allegation did not. (pp. 12-23.)

Categorically barring retaliation or discrimination allegations from deferral to arbitration is not appropriate because parties may agree to have an arbitrator decide a statutory unfair practice issue. (pp. 15-18.) While a contractual just cause provision typically does not support deferral of a retaliation or discrimination allegation, deferral may be appropriate when the agreement contains a non-discrimination clause. (p. 19.) A retaliation allegation was subject to deferral when the collective bargaining agreement contained a non-discrimination clause prohibiting the employer from discriminating against employees because of union activity, and the charge alleged a steward was denied paid release time because of her attendance at a meeting on behalf of the union. (pp. 20-22.)

1103.00000 – CASE PROCESSING PROCEDURES; COMPLAINT
1103.11000 – Request for Deferral to Arbitration

When considering whether to defer an unfair practice charge to arbitration, PERB applies a three-part test: (1) whether the dispute arises within a stable collective bargaining relationship; (2) whether the respondent is willing to waive contract-based procedural defenses to the grievance or arbitration and is willing to arbitrate the dispute; and (3) whether the contract and its meaning lie at the center of the dispute. (p. 6.) The contract and its meaning lie at the center of the dispute when (1) the alleged unfair practice is arguably prohibited by the collective bargaining agreement and (2) resolution of the contractual issue must necessarily resolve the merits of the unfair practice allegation. (p. 8.) Deferral is not appropriate unless all factually or legally interrelated allegations are subject to deferral. (pp. 9-12.) The Board concluded the charge was not subject to deferral because, while three of four factually interrelated allegations met the criteria for deferral, the fourth allegation did not. (pp. 12-23.)

1103.00000 – CASE PROCESSING PROCEDURES; COMPLAINT
1103.12000 – Concurrent or Derivative Violations

An independent violation can be proven without also proving another alleged violation, while a derivative violation depends entirely on proving another violation. (p. 9.)