Thursday, June 30, 2011

PERB rules employer’s conducting a survey of unit members to determine if a recognized or certified collective bargaining agent should continue to represent the unit an improper employer practice

PERB rules employer’s conducting a survey of unit members to determine if a recognized or certified collective bargaining agent should continue to represent the unit an improper employer practice
Matter of Monroe County v New York State Pub. Empl. Relations Bd., 2011 NY Slip Op 05170

The Public Employment Relations Board found ruled that Monroe County had committed an improper employer practice in violation of the Taylor Law when it conducted a survey “to assess whether to hold a secret ballot election” to determine if CSEA should continue as the union representing certain of the County’s part-time employees.

CSEA had told Monroe that the CSEA unit for part-time employees was in administratorship, i.e., the CSEA local had taken over control of the part-time unit, because the unit no longer had any officers “to run it.”  Although Monroe had agreed to negotiate with CSEA concerning the part-time workers in the unit, it mailed all of its part-time employees represented by CSEA a letter and survey form underlying CSEA’s improper practice charge.

PERB affirmed its hearing officer’s determination that Monroe had "interfered with, restrained and coerced employees in the exercise of protected rights." Monroe appealed, seeking to annul PERB's determination while PERB counterclaimed seeking enforcement of its remedial order.

The Appellate Division concluded that substantial evidence supported PERB's determination that Monroe had violated Civil Service Law §209-a (1) (a) by conducting the survey. The court rejected Monroe’s claim that it was acting appropriately and was justified in sending out the survey based on a provision in the prior collective bargaining agreement.

The provision relied on by Monroe stated that CSEA's "representative status shall continue as long as it represents a majority of the bargaining unit employees, provided that if [Monroe County] receives evidence that thirty percent or more of the unit employees are questioning this status, the parties will conduct a secret ballot election conducted by PERB to determine representative status."

The Appellate Division ruled that PERB’s finding that this language did not provide Monroe with the authority to actively solicit employees' opinions regarding their potential dissatisfaction with CSEA's union representation nor did Monroe have authority under the regulations to seek decertification of CSEA was “rational.” It commented that courts give deference to PERB's interpretation of a collective bargaining agreement, which is within PERB's area of expertise, as long as that interpretation is reasonable, rational and supported by the language of the agreement.

Notwithstanding Monroe’s concerns regarding CSEA's ability to effectively represent its employees in the part-time unit, the Appellate Division decided that PERB “reasonably determined that this concern did not permit [Monroe County] to conduct a survey. Accordingly, said the court, PERB was entitled to a judgment of enforcement of its remedial order.

The decision is posted on the Internet at:
http://www.courts.state.ny.us/reporter/3dseries/2011/2011_05170.htm

Handbooks focusing on State and Municipal Public Personnel Law continue to be available for purchase via the links provided below:

The Discipline Book at http://thedisciplinebook.blogspot.com/

Challenging Adverse Personnel Decisions at http://nypplarchives.blogspot.com

The Disability Benefits E-book: at http://section207.blogspot.com/

Layoff, Preferred Lists at http://nylayoff.blogspot.com/

Caution:

Subsequent court and administrative rulings, or changes to laws, rules and regulations may have modified or clarified or vacated or reversed the decisions summarized here. Accordingly, these summaries should be Shepardized® or otherwise checked to make certain that the most recent information is being considered by the reader.

THE MATERIAL ON THIS WEBSITE IS FOR INFORMATION ONLY. CHANGES IN LAWS, RULES, REGULATIONS AND NEW COURT AND ADMINISTRATIVE DECISIONS MAY AFFECT THE ACCURACY OF THE INFORMATION PROVIDED IN THIS LAWBLOG. THE MATERIAL PRESENTED IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE AND THE USE OF ANY MATERIAL POSTED ON THIS WEBSITE DOES NOT CREATE AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP.

Consistent with the Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations, the material in this blog is presented with the understanding that the publisher is not providing legal advice to the reader and in the event legal or other expert assistance is needed, the reader should seek such advice from a competent professional.

Items published in NYPPL may not be used for commercial purposes without prior written permission to copy and distribute such material. Send your request via e-mail to publications@nycap.rr.com

Copyright© 1987 - 2017 by the Public Employment Law Press.



___________________



N.B. From time to time a political ad or endorsement may appear in the sidebar of this Blog. NYPPL does not have any control over such posting.

_____________________

.