MMBA Factfinding Applies to All Negotiations Resulting in Impasse
Not Just Negotiations for a Comprehensive MOU
The fact-finding procedures required by the Meyers Milias Brown Act apply to all negotiations which reach impasse, not just those arising from negotiations for a comprehensive MOU, the California Court of Appeal has held in two opinions.
In San Diego Housing Commission v. Public Employment Relations Board, the Fourth District Court of Appeal found in favor of PERB, holding that fact finding under the MMBA applies to all impasses, not just those related to negotiations of a comprehensive MOU. The opinion overturned the trial court decision that held that the MMBA fact-finding procedures did not apply to an impasse regarding the effects bargaining of a decision to layoff employees. The court reasoned that PERB’s interpretation of the MMBA should be given deference because PERB is a state agency with specialized knowledge and experience in interpreting these types of labor laws. The court, citing to PERB’s decision in this matter, determined that:
- The MMBA does not contain any language that expressly limits its fact-finding provisions to impasses related to negotiations of a comprehensive MOU.
- PERB has consistently applied similar fact-finding provisions in the Educational Employment Relations Act and the Higher Education Employer-Employee Relations Act to all types of bargaining disputes, not just those arising from negotiation for a comprehensive MOU.
- PERB’s interpretation of the MMBA fact-finding provisions is consistent with the legislative history of AB 646 (which added the mandatory fact-finding provisions to the MMBA).
- Interpreting the MMBA fact-finding provisions to apply to all bargaining disputes is consistent with the parties’ obligation under the MMBA to negotiate over any bargainable issue, and prepare an MOU to memorialize that agreement.
The court applied the same reasoning to reach a similar holding in County of Riverside v. PERB, a case that involved the effects bargaining over a new background check policy for information technology employees.
These decisions by the Court of Appeal, issued Wednesday, are binding on public agencies throughout California unless another appellate district reaches a different conclusion, or the California Supreme Court decides to review and ultimately overturn the decision. Therefore, agencies subject to the provisions of the MMBA should prepare for bargaining on all issues with the understanding that the fact-finding procedures could be invoked if impasse is reached.
For more information about these decisions and how they may impact your agency, contact the author of this Legal Alert listed at the right in the firm’s Labor & Employment practice group, or your BB&K attorney.
Please feel free to share this Legal Alert or subscribe by clicking here. Follow us on Twitter @BBKlaw.
Disclaimer: BB&K Legal Alerts are not intended as legal advice. Additional facts or future developments may affect subjects contained herein. Seek the advice of an attorney before acting or relying upon any information in this communiqué.