ANSWERS TO FREQUENTLY
ASKED LABOR RELATIONS QUESTIONS
1. What is the Dill’s Act and who is covered?
The Dills Act, embodied in Government Code Sections 3512-3524, originally called the State Employer-Employee Relations Act) was enacted in 1977 and formalized collective bargaining for State employees. The Act did the following:
- Set up a process for determining wages, hours and terms and conditions of employment for rank & file and supervisory employees. Managers and confidential employees (as defined in Government Codes 3513, (e) and (f) ) are provided no bargaining rights.
- Rank and file employees have the right to:
1. form, join, be represented by and participate in employee unions and the right to not join.
2. meet and confer in good faith rights (full bargaining rights); both sides must exchange and fully consider all reasonable proposals with the hopes of reaching a final agreement.
- Supervisors are provided representational rights but not full bargaining rights; they have the right join unions and meet & discuss proposals with management. After considering union proposals and counterproposals management may implement a policy or course of action.
- Set up the Public Employment Relations Board as the “watch dog” agency to oversee compliance with the provisions of the Dill’s Act.
2. What are employees’ rights to representation and do they get State release time?
The representational rights of employees will vary depending on the issue, and the bargaining unit the employee is assigned to. As a general rule, with prior supervisory approval, employees have the right to paid release time to be represented on issues involving work hours, wages, and other terms and conditions of employment. Additionally, job stewards are allowed reasonable time off, with prior approval, to represent an employee in accordance with the provisions of the MOU.
While employees do not have a legal right to representation for routine performance discussions, it is suggested they be allowed representation if they request it. If, however, adverse action is being considered, the employee must be allowed a representative to be present at the meeting. These rights are referred to as “Robinson Rights.”
Neither employees or a job stewards are allowed state paid release time to engage in union sponsored activities such as union rallies, membership drives etc.. Please refer the to “Guidelines for Grievance Handling” at the end of this document.
3. What is reasonable time off?
If an employee requests time off for representation purposes, the supervisor should evaluate the request based on operational needs. Based on those needs, the supervisor shall approve or deny the requested time off. The supervisor might consider allowing the time off before the lunch hour or at the end of the day to facilitate the employee have more time. Any questions concerning this should be discussed with the Labor Relations Section.
4. What are management’s rights?
Management’s rights are usually defined in the “State Rights” provisions of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). These provisions, which may be worded differently between MOUs are consistent in their intent. Essentially, these rights allow departments to: determine its mission; consistent with the Civil Service Act to establish procedures and standards of selection for employment and promotion, lay off, assignment, scheduling and training; to determine the methods, means and personnel operations to be conducted. While management does have these rights, many actions require noticing and meeting with the unions on the impact of policy changes prior to implementation. Please contact the Labor Relations Section prior to making any program changes which may affect the hours, wages or other terms and conditions of employment.
5. What are the unions’ rights?
The primary rights of unions are to represent their members. The specifics and of those rights such as distribution of literature, access to the work site, use of state phones, release time, etc., are detailed in the MOUs. Generally, union have the right to:
1. Represent their members.
2. Use state and/or union designated bulletin boards.
3. Use other means of communications (during non work hours and in non work areas.
4. Worksite access (with advance approval of management).
5. Release time.
6. Dues check off/fair share fees in specific MOU’s.
6. What is an unfair labor practice charge and who can file it?
An unfair labor practice charge may be filed by the employer, the employee, or the exclusive representative (the union). Generally, unfair labor practices include:
1. Attempts to, or cause the other party to commit an unfair labor practice
4. Failure to participate in negotiations in good faith
5. Failure to participate in impasse procedure in good faith
6. Denial of rights
7. What is a past practice?
A “past practice” is the usual, customary way of administering a term or seniority or first-request-first approved). The practice must be consistently applied over a period of time and be known and accepted by the employee (and/or union) and the employer. Changes to past practices require prior notice to the employees and/or the union and may require a meet and confer session. Contact the Labor Relations Section prior to implementing any changes to past practices.
8. Can an employee be required to work mandatory overtime?
Supervisors must be willing to consider a reasonable excuse for not working the overtime (i.e. same reasons for not working a regular shift). However, employees may be required to work overtime provided that the overtime is assigned in accordance with MOU provisions and past practice. If neither exists, overtime may be assigned if the three rules of reasonableness are followed:
1. The work is of reasonable duration (with consideration to the employee’s health, safety and endurance).
2. There are reasonable circumstances requiring the overtime.
3. Reasonable notice is given.
4. Contact the Labor Relations Section for guidance.
9. What are the rules regarding unions distributing and posting literature at the worksite?
These provisions are outlined in the MOUs. Ordinarily, unions have the right to distribute literature before or after work hours or during meal periods in non- work areas. They do not have the right to distribute materials in employee mailboxes unless this has been an agreed to practice. They may also use existing union bulletin boards to post materials. A copy of all materials that are posted must be provided to the office supervisor at the time of posting. Additionally, any literature posted or distributed on site will not be libelous, obscene, defamatory or of a partisan political nature.
10. What is a grievance and how do I respond to one?
A grievance is a dispute between one or more employees (usually between a rank and file employee and a supervisory employee), or a dispute between the State and the union, involving the interpretation, application, or enforcement of the terms of the negotiated MOU. The grievance procedure is outlined in the MOU and defines the levels of review and response as well as the timeframes. In the Department of General Services the third level response is prepared by the Labor Relations Section and signed by the designated deputy director. Contact the Labor Relations Section for assistance in responding to grievances.
GUIDELINES FOR GRIEVANCE HANDLING
I. THE INFORMAL DISCUSSION
Ask objective questions: Make sure you understand what the grievance is!!!!
Restate the grievance and the remedy requested
Set time for response
Always get back to the employee or provide response after discussion
Contact the Labor Relations Section if you have questions.
II. GRIEVANCE INVESTIGATION
l. Identify the violation (Contract Provision/policy or past practice)
A. What contract section/or policy was violated?
B. Are other contract sections, past practices, policies or regulations the issue?
C. Was the grievance filed within the timeframes required by the MOU?
2. Identify the important facts
A. List the facts that led to the grievance
B. Visit the work area
C. Question other employees, if appropriate.
D. Get the date, time, and place the problem occurred
3. Obtain all relevant records, i.e. personnel, counseling memos etc.
4. What are the possible solutions to this grievance?
5. What is your decision?
A. Give your verbal/written answer to the grievant
B. Explain your decision
C. Make a record of what you did
D. Follow through to determine if agreed upon changes occurred
6. KEEP STRICTLY TO THE ISSUE AT HAND!!!!
7. Contact the Labor Relations Unit for advice.