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STATEOFCALIFORNIA

G.BROWNJR.,Governor
PUBLICEMPLOYMENTRELATIONSBOARD
SacramentoRegionalOffice
1031 18thStreet
JUL S9 2013
Sacramento,CA 95811-4124
Telephone: 916-324-0143
SLO CITY ATTORNEY
Fax: (916)327-6377
July24,2013
Re: San Luis Obispo Utility Service Employees Association v. City o/San Luis Obispo
CaseNo.LA-CE-764-M
DearParties:
AttachedisthePublicEmploymentRelationsBoard(PERBorBoard)agent'sProposed
Decisionintheabove-entitledmatter.
AnypartytotheproceedingmayfilewiththeBoarditself astatementofexceptionstothe
ProposedDecision. ThestatementofexceptionsshallbefiledwiththeBoarditselfatthe
followingaddress:
PUBLICEMPLOYMENTRELATIONSBOARD
Attention: AppealsAssistant
1031 18thStreet,Suite200
Sacramento,CA 95811-4124
(916)322-8231
FAX: (916)327-7960
PursuanttoCaliforniaCodeofRegulations,title8, section32300,anoriginalandfive copies
of thestatementofexceptionsmustbefiledwiththeBoarditselfwithin20daysofserviceof
thisdecision. A documentisconsidered"filed"whenactuallyreceivedduringaregularPERB
businessday. (Cal.CodeRegs.,tit.8, 32135,subd.(a);seealso,Cal.CodeRegs.,tit. 8,
32130.)
Adocumentisalsoconsidered"filed"whenreceivedbyfacsimiletransmissionbeforethe
closeofbusinesstogetherwithaFacsimileTransmissionCoverSheetthatmeetsthe
requirementsofCaliforniaCodeof Regulations,title8,section32135(d),providedthefiling
partyalsoplacestheoriginal,togetherwiththerequirednumberof copiesandproofofservice,
intheU.S.mail. (Cal.CodeRegs.,tit. 8, 32135,subds.(b),(c)and(d);seealso,Cal. Code
Regs.,tit.8, 32090and32130.)
Thestatementofexceptionsshallbeinwriting,signedbythepartyoritsagentandshall:
(1) statethespecificissuesof procedure,fact, laworrationaletowhicheachexceptionis
taken;(2) identifythepageorpartof thedecisiontowhicheachexceptionistaken;
(3)designatebypagecitationorexhibitnumbertheportionsof therecord,ifany,reliedupon
foreachexception;and(4)statethegroundsforeachexception. Referenceshallbemadein
thestatementofexceptionsonlytomatterscontainedintherecordof thecase. Anexception
LA-CE-764-M
July24,2013
Page2
notspecificallyurged'snaIl Asupportingbriefmaybefiledwiththestatementof
exceptions. (Cal.CodeRegs.,tit. 8, 32300.)
Within20daysfollowingthedateofserviceofastatementofexceptions,anypartymayfile
withtheBoarditselfanoriginalandfivecopiesof aresponsetothestatementofexceptions
andasupportingbrief. TheresponseshallbefiledwiththeBoarditselfattheaddressnoted
above. Theresponsemaycontainastatementof anyexceptionstherespondingpartywishesto
taketotheproposeddecision. Anysuchstatementof exceptionsshallcomplyinformwiththe
requirementsofCaliforniaCodeof Regulations,title8,section32300. Aresponsetosuch
exceptionsmaybefiledwithin20days. Suchresponseshallcomplyinformwiththe
provisionsof thissection.
Alldocumentsauthorizedtobefiledhereinmustalsobe"served"uponallpartiestothe
proceeding,anda"proofofservice"mustaccompanyeachcopyofadocumentservedupona
partyorfiledwiththeBoarditself. (SeeCal. CodeRegs.,tit. 8, 32140fortherequired
contents.) Thedocumentwillbeconsideredproperly"served"whenpersonallydeliveredor
depositedinthemailordepositedwithadeliveryserviceandproperlyaddressed. Adocument
mayalsobeconcurrentlyservedviafacsimiletransmissiononallpartiestotheproceeding.
(Cal.CodeRegs.,tit. 8,32135,subd.(c).)
AnypartydesiringtoargueorallybeforetheBoarditselfregardingtheexceptionstothe
proposeddecisionshallfilewiththestatementof exceptionsortheresponsetheretoawritten
requeststatingthereasonsfortherequest. UponsuchrequestoritsownmotiontheBoard
itselfmaydirectoralargument. (Cal.CodeRegs.,tit. 8, 32315.) Allrequestsfororal
argumentshallbefiledasaseparatedocument.
Arequestforanextensionof timewithinwhichtofileanydocumentwiththeBoarditself
shallbeinwritingandshallbefiledattheheadquartersoffice'atleastthreedaysbeforethe
expirationof thetimerequiredforfiling. Therequestshallstatethereasonfortherequestand,
if known,thepositionof eachotherpartyregardingtheextension. Serviceandproofof
servicepursuanttoCaliforniaCodeof Regulations,title8,section32140arerequired.
ExtensionsoftimemaybegrantedbytheBOarditselforanagentdesignated])),theBoard
itselfforgoodcauseonly.-(Cal.CodeRegs.,tit. 8,- 32132,su.bd:-(il).) -
.Unlessapartyfilesatimelystatementof exceptionstotheproposeddecision,thedecision
shallbecomefinal. (Cal. CodeRegs.,tit. 8, 32305.)
Verytrulyyours,
ShawnCloughesy
ChiefAdministrativeLawJudge
PROOFOFSERVICE
IdeclarethatI amaresidentoforemployedintheCountyofSacramento,California. I.
amovertheageof18 yearsandnotapartytothewithinentitledcause. Thenameandaddress
ofmyresidenceorbusinessisPublicEmploymentRelationsBoard,1031 18thStreet,
Sacramento,CA95811-4124.
OnJuly24,2013,IservedtheLetterwithProposedDecisionin: San Luis Obispo
Utility ServiCe Employees Association v. City olSan Luis Obispo, CaseNo. LA-CE-764-M,on
thepartieslistedbelowby
-X- placingatruecopythereofenclosedinasealedenvelopeforcollectionand
deliverybytheUnitedStatesPostalServiceorprivatedeliveryservicefollowingordinary
businesspracticeswithpostageorothercostsprepaid.
_ personaldelivery.
_ facsimiletransmissioninaccordancewiththerequirementsof PERB
Regulations32090and32135(d).
RalphRoyds,LaborRepresentative
PublicLaborAdvisors
6285EastSpringStreet,Suite355
LongBeach,CA 9.0808
BruceA. Barsook,Attorney
StacyL. Velloff,Attorney
Leibert,Cassidy,Whitmore
6033WestCenturyBoulevard,5thFloor
LosAngeles,CA 90045
J. ChristineDietrick,CityAttorney
CityofSanLuisObispo .
990palmstreet
SanLuisObispo,CA 93401-324
Ideclareunderpenaltyof perjurythattheforegoingistrueandcorrectandthatthis
declarationwasexecutedonJuly24,2013,atSacramento,California.
ReginaKeith
(Typeorprintnanle)
STATEOFCALIFORNIA
PUBLICEMPLOYMENTRELATIONSBOARD
SANLUIS OBISPOUTILITYSERVICE
EMPLOYEESASSOCIATION,
ChargingParty,
v.
CITYOFSANLUISOBISPO,
Res ondent.
UNFAIRPRACTICE
CASENO.LA-CE-764-M
PROPOSEDDECISION
(July24,2013)
Appearances: PublicLaborAdvisorsbyRalphRoyds,Representative,forSanLuisObispo
UtilityServiceEmployeesAssociation;LiebertCassidyWhitmorebyBruceA. Barsookand
StacyL. Velloff,Attorneys,andJ. ChristineDietrick,CityAttorney,for CityofSanLuisObispo.
BeforeValeriePikeRacho,AdministrativeLawJudge.
PROCEDURALHISTORY
Inthiscase,anemployeeorganizationallegesthatapublicemployerunlawfully
applieditslocalrulesregardingrecognitionandunitappropriatenessandtherebyunreasonably
refusedarequestforrecognitioninviolationoftheMeyers-Milias-BrownAct.! Theemployer
deniesanyviolationof thelaw.
TheSanLuisObispo t ~ ~ i t y ServiceEmployeesAssociation(SLOUSA)initiatedthis
actionbyfilinganunfairpracticechargewiththePublicEmploymentRelationsBoard(PERB
orBoard)againsttheCityofSanLui"s Obispo(City)onApril18,2012. Thechargealleged
thattheCityfailedtoproperlyapplytheCity'slocalrulescoveringrecognitionandunit
compositiontoSLOUSA'spetitiontoseverseveralclassificationsfromanexistinggeneral
unitandcreateanewutilitiesunit. OnMay30,2012,thePERBOfficeoftheGeneralCounsel
issuedacomplaintallegingthattheCityviolatedtheMMBAanditsownlocalruleswhenit
I TheMMBAiscodifiedatGovernmentCodesection3500etseq. Unlessotherwise
specified,allstatutoryreferenceshereinaretotheGovernmentCode.
foundthatthepetitioned-foremployeesdidnotconstituteanappropriatebargainingunit
because,amongotherreasons,theydidnotshareasufficientcommunityofinterest. On
June 18,2012,theCityansweredthecomplaint,denyingthatitsunitdeterminationviolatedits
localrulesortheMMBA.
PERBconductedaninformalsettlementconferencewiththepartiesonAugust1,2012,
butthedisputewasnotresolved. OnSeptember19,2012,thecasewastransferredfromChief
AdministrativeLawJudge(ALJ)ShawnCloughesy,toALJValeriePikeRacho. Neitherparty
objectedtothetransfer. OnJanuary14,2013,thepartiesjointlysubmittedastatementoffacts
with16attachedexhibitsinlieuofholdinganevidentiaryhearing. Thepartiesstipulatedthat .
theirjointsubmissionwouldconstitutethecompleteevidentiaryrecordinthecase. Withthe
receiptoftheparties'closingbriefsonFebruary7,2013,therecordwasclosedandthecase
wassubmittedfordecision.
FINDINGSOFFACT
TheParties
TheCityisapublicagencywithinthemeaningofMMBAsection3501(c)andPERB
Regulation32016(a).2 SLOUSAisanemployeeorganizationwithinthemeaningofMMBA
section3501(a)(2). TheSanLuisObispoCityEmployeesAssociation(SLOCEA)isthe
exclusiverepresentativeofageneralunitofCityemployees,includingthoseemployedinthe
waterandwastewaterdivisionsof theutilitiesdepartmentthatwerethesubjectofSLOUSA's
severancepetition.
3
2PERBregulationsarecodifiedatCaliforniaCodeof Regulations,title8,
section31001 etseq.
3 TheCityraisedasanaffirmativedefenseinitsanswertothecomplaintthatSLOCEA
shouldbejoinedasanecessaryandindispensablepartytothecase. Thisissuewasnot
addressedbymotionorineitherparty'sclosingbrief,however,andSLOCEAdidnotseekto
participateinthelitigation. Therefore,theredoesnotappeartobeadequategroundstoorder
joinderunderPERBRegulation32164.
2
ExistingRepresentationUnits
TheCityemploysapproximately350employeesinfourbargainingunits. Police
departmentemployeesareincludedintwounitsandfirefightersareinasingleunit.
4
SLOCEA
representsthefourthandlargestunit,encompassingapproximately70classificationsinalmost
everyCitydepartment,including: utilities,publicworks,parksandrecreation,finance,
informationtechnology,andcommunitydevelopment. Roughlyone-thirdofSLOCEA'sunit
areemployedintheutilitiesdepartment. SLOCEAhasrepresentedtheseemployeesforas
longastheCityhasmaintainedsuchrecords,atleastsincethelate-1970s. Since 1992,
SLOCEAbylawshaverequiredthattheSLOCEAboardofdirectorsincludeutilitiesemployee
representatives.
SLOUSA'sSeveranceandRecognitionPetition
OnoraboutSeptember16,2011,SLOUSAfiledapetitionwiththeCityseekingto
sever17classificationsfromthegeneralunitrepresentedbySLOCEA. Allof theemployees
encompassedbythepetitionwereworkingwithinthewaterandwastewaterdivisionsofthe
utilitiesdepartment.
s
ThepetitionthereforerequestedrecognitionofSLOUSAasthe
exclusiverepresentativeofanewlyformedutilitiesunit. Aroundoneweekearlier,inaletter
datedSeptember9,2011,SLOUSArepresentativeRalphRoydssentaletteranalyzingthe
communityofinterestamongtherequestedunitpositionstotheCity'sHumanResources
4AtthetimeofSLOUSA'spetitiontherewasafifthunitoffirebattalionchiefs. That
unitwaslatereliminatedandthethreefirebattalionchiefsjoinedtheexistingfirefightersunit.
STheclassificationssoughtwere: WastewaterCollectionsSystemsOperator,Water
CustomerServicePersonnel,WaterDistributionSystemOperator,WaterReclamationFacility
ChiefOperator,WaterReclamationFacilityChiefMaintenanceTechnician,Water
ReclamationFacilityMaintenanceTechnician,WaterReclamationFacilityOperator,Water
SupplyOperator,WaterTreatmentPlantChiefOperator,WaterTreatmentPlantMaintenance
Technician,WaterTreatmentPlantOperator,SupervisingAdministrativeAssistant,
AdministrativeAssistant,EnvironmentalComplianceInspector,LaboratoryAnalyst,
UndergroundUtilitiesLocator,andUtilitiesConservationTechnician.
3
Director,MonicaIrons.
6
SLOUSAchieflyarguedthatthefactorssupportingacommunityof
interestbetweenthesought-afterclassificationswere: (1)thatallworkperformedbythese
employeeswasdoneprimarilyatremoteworksitesandinvolvedthetreatment,distribution,
andcollectionofwaterandwastewater;(2)thatmostof themworkedwithspecialized
equipment;and(3)thatmanyrequiredspecializedtraining,licensing,andcertificationswith
requisiteoversightbyStateregulators.
7
SLOUSAmaintainedthatthesesharedcharacteristics
weredistinctfromotherCityemployees,andthereforebolsteredtheargumentthatseverance
wasappropriate.
SLOUSAalsoarguedthatSLOCEAhadnotprovidedutilitiesemployeeswithadequate
representation,notingspecificallythattheissueof"skillsbasedpay" ~ r utilitiesworkershad
notbeenprioritizedbytheincumbentrepresentative. Skillsbasedpayreferredtoaprogram
pilotedin2001 andimplementedin2004intheutilitiesdepartment,whereincompensation
wasbasedupontheachievementofcertainskillsandcertificationsfor someutilities
classifications. Nineoftheclassificationsinvolvedintheseverancerequestreceivedskills
basedpay,andtheremainingeightclassificationswerepaidundertheCity'sstandardsalary
. stepsystem. Todate,skillsbasedpayisnotincludedinthememorandumofunderstanding
betweentheCityandSLOCEA.
OnSeptember21,2011,IronssentalettertoSLOUSArepresentativesJeffMontijoand
DonaldThomasinformingthemthatSLOUSA'spetitionwasprocedurallycompliantwith
section10oftheCity'sEmployer-EmployeeRelationsResolution(ERRorlocalrules),and
6ThisletteralsoreferencedanearlierconversationbetweenRoydsandIronsregarding
SLOUSA'sseverancerequest. Therecorddoesnotexplainwhythisletterprecededthefiling
ofthepetition.
7 SLOUSAacknowledgedthatthiswasnottrueforthesought-afteradministrative
positionsproposedtobeincludedintheutilitiesunit,butarguedthattheadministrativestaff
workinginthewaterandwastewaterdivisionsrequired"specializedknowledge" byvirtueof
workingforautility.
4
thatshewouldevaluatethepetitionunderthecommunityofinterestfactors setforthinERR
section11. Afterthatanalysis,Ironswouldthenmakearecommendationoverunit
appropriatenesstotheCity'semployeerelationsofficer,CityManagerKatieLichtig.
TheCity'sLocalRu1es
TheERRdoesnotcontainaprovisionspecifictoseverance. However,itisundisputed
thattheCityprocessedSLOUSA'sseverancerequestunderexistinglocalruleprovisions
coveringrecognitionofanemployeeorganizationasamajorityrepresentative(section10)and
unitappropriateness(section11).8 It isalsoundisputedthattheCityfoundSLOUSA'spetition
compliantwithERRsection10,andpursuanttothatsectionSLOUSAsoughtformal
recognitionasamajorityrepresentative. ERRsection11 requirestheCitytoanalyzethe
following"communityofinterest" factors whentaskedwithdeterminingwhetheraproposed
unitisappropriateuponreceiptofarequestforformalrecognitionasamajorityrepresentative:
1. Whichunitwillassureemployeesthefullestfreedominthe
exerciseof rights;
2. Thehistoryofemployeerelationsintheunit,amongother
employeesoftheCity,andinsimilarpublicemployment;
3. Theeffectof theunitontheefficientoperationandconsistent
withtheorganizationalstructureof theCityandsound
employer-employeerelations;
4. Theextenttowhichemployeeshavecommonskills,working
conditions,jobduties,orsimilareducationalrequirements;
and
5. Theeffectontheexistingclassificationstructureofdivision
onasingleclassificationamongtwoormoreunits.
gTheparties,therefore,donotdisputethatseverancecouldbeaccomplishedunderthe
City'slocalrulesinthiscase,andthisisnotatissue. (SeeCounty 0/Orange (2010)PERB
DecisionNo.2138-M[PERB'srepresentationregulationsonlyserveto"fillinthegap"fora
publicagency'sfailuretoadoptarulecoveringaparticularrepresentationissuewherethe
agency'sru1es containnoprovisionthatcouldaccomplishwhatthepetitionerseekswithout
placingan n ~ u burdenonthepetitioner];seealso County o/Siskiyou/Siskiyou County
Superior Court (2010)PERBDecisionNo. 2113-M.)
5
ERRsection11 alsomandates: "Representationunitsshouldconsistof thebroadestfeasible
groupingofpositionsthatshareari identifiablecommunityofinterest. Everyeffortshouldbe
madetominimizetheproliferationof unitswithintheguidelinesestablished."
TheCity'sDispositionofthePetition
OnoraboutOctober 12,2011,IronsmadeawrittenrecommendationtoLichtigthat
SLOUSA'spetitionbedeniedforalackofunitappropriateness. Lichtigreviewedthe
recommendationandadoptedit. LichtigandIronspresentedtheCity'sdeterminationto
MontijoandanotherSLOUSArepresentative,RandyStevenson,inpersonandinwritingon
October20,2011. TheCitysummarizedSLOUSA'sargumentsandanalyzedeachof the
communityofinterestfactors discussedaboveasfollows.
1. EmployeeFreedom
TheCityacknowledgedthatutilitiesemployeesdesiredtoseparatefromSLOCEA
becausetheybelievedthattheirduties,education,training,worklocations,hours,and
compensationdifferedsignificantlyfromtherestof theemployeesrepresentedbySLOCEA,
andthatarecentchangeinSLOCEAlegalrepresentationhadnotaddressedtheuniqueneeds
ofutilitiesworkers. Specificallyregardingthelatterpoint,SLOUSAhighlightedthatskills
basedpayhadnotbeenincludedinthecurrentcontractbetweenSLOCEAandtheCity.
SLOUSAalsoallegedinternalconflictwithinSLOCEAbecausetheutilitiesdepartment"isan
enterprisefund,"andutilitiesemployeesdesiredtobeinaunitconsistingentirelyofenterprise
fundemployees.
9
Inrespondingtothosearguments,theCitynotedthatapproximately40percentof
positionsinthegeneralunitrepresentedbySLOCEAwereenterprisefundpositions,with
roughly34percentfromtheutilitiesdepartment(utilitiesenterprisefund), butalsowith
9 Thedifferenceinthemethodof fundingbetweengeneralfundsandenterprisefundsis
notclearlyexplainedintherecord,butitcanbesurmisedthatsuchfundingsourcesaredistinct
from eachother.
6
7 percent derived from the parking division of the public works department (parking enterprise
fund). The City found that the argument regarding differing duties, training, compensation,
etc., among utilities workers could also be made among other various subgroups of employees
represented by SLOCEA, and thus was not unique to utilities employees. The City also
observed that the issue of skills based pay was not without controversy within the utilities
department itself, and that SLOCEA had been in discussions with the City over its inclusion in
the current memorandum of understanding. The City noted that a similar skills based pay
program was being developed for maintenance classifications within the public works
department.
2. History of Employee Relations
The City found significant the fact that SLOCEA had always represented employees in
the utilities department, and noted that there had been very little change in the composition of
City bargaining units over the years. The most common change involved moving a
classification or career series from one bargaining unit to another. Regarding a comparison
with other public agencies, two out of nine comparison agencies had separate units for
utilities/maintenance workers, but the majority contained utilities classifications within a
general unit.
3. Effect on Efficient Operations
SLOUSA maintained that the proposed unit was consistent with the City's operation
and organizational structure because it would align all non-management utilities classifications
within a single unit of employees who would have little need to interact with or rely on
employees in other City departments. The City disagreed with this assessment, finding instead
that utilities employees: .
[R]egularly interact and rely on employees in the Finance and
Information Technology department for utility billing, GIS
related issues such as valve excising/locating, manhole locations,
7
treatmentplantequipment,andwaterconservation[,] aswellas
thePublicWorksdepartmentrelatedto solidwastedisposal,
stormwater,paving,capitalprojects,projectinspections,fleet
maintenance,recycledwaterandlaboratoryanalysis.
4. CommonSkills,WorkingConditionslDuties,orSimilarEducation
SLOUSAarguedthatutilitiesemployeesrequiredspecializedtrainingand
certifications,usedspecializedequipment,andworkedatlocationsnotgenerallyaccessibleto
otherCityemployees. SLOUSAalsocontendedthatwaterandwastewateremployeeskept
abreastofworkassignmentsinthedivisionsforoperationalneeds. Inrespondingtothese
arguments,theCitynotedthatwhilethewaterandwastewaterdivisionsof theutilities
departmenteachutilizedspecializedequipment,thisequipment"forobviousreasons"wasnot
sharedbetweenthedivisions.lO Furthermore,employeesineachdivisionhaddistinctState
certificationrequirements,andemployeeswerenotcross-trainedtoworkinbothdivisions.
Twelveoutof17classificationssoughttobeincludedintheutilitiesunitrequired
specializedcertificationsorlicensesas ajobprerequisite,leavingfiveclassificationsinthe
proposedunitwithoutanyrequirementforspecializededucationorcertifications(includingthe
twoadministrativeclassificationsandthreeothers). Inaddition,theCityfoundthattheneed
forspecializedcertificationswasnotuniquetotheutilitiesdepartment. Manyclassifications
outsideoftheutilitiesdepartmentthatwereincludedintheexistingunitalsorequired
specializedcertificationsand/ortwo-to-fouryeardegrees,forexample: BuildingInspector,
CodeEnforcementOfficer,Engineer,EngineeringInspector,GIS Specialist,Network
Administrator,ParksandMaintenanceTechnician,PlansExaminer,Planner,andTree
Trimmer.
10 Whilenotexplicitinthefactualrecord,itcanbepresumedthattheCity'sreference
to"obviousreasons"fornotsharingequipmentbetweenthewaterandwastewaterdivisionsis
becauseoftheriskof watercontaminationbywasteparticulates.
8
1
5. Single Classification Divided Among Two or More ~ n t s
Analysis under this factor only applied to the two administrative positions requested to
be included in the proposed unit. The City observed that most other City departments
employed Administrative Assistants and Supervising Administrative Assistants, including the
police and fire departments. These administrative positions shared common duties that were
adapted based on departmental need. Opportunities for advancement for administrative
assistants was both intra-departmental and inter-departmental. The administrative assistant
classification is the only one in the City that was divided among several bargaining units.
6. Other Considerations
Based on its analysis of the factors discussed above, the City concluded that the
proposed unit was not appropriate. The City also found that SLOUSA's petition did not align
with the mandate in ERR section 11 to maintain bargaining units with the largest feasible
grouping of positions containing an identifiable community of interest and to minimize unit
proliferation. The City concluded that the petition did not contain the broadest feasible
grouping, as summarized by Irons in her written analysis:
Given that the Utilities and Public Works Departments are
currently examining organizational synergies, the Public Works
Department is considering implementing [skills based pay] for
Maintenance classifications, and that many non-Utilities
classifications within SLOCEA require certifications and/or
degrees, I do notseegranting this unit in the bestinterest or
furthering employee relations.
ISSUE
Whether the City applied its local rules regarding recognition and unit appropriateness
in 'an unreasonable manner, thereby unlawfully denying SLOUSA'srequest for severance?
9
CONCLUSIONSOFLAW
TheMMBApermitslocalpublicagenciesto"adoptreasonablerulesandregulations"
fortheadministrationof employer-employeerelations,includingproceduresfordetermining
exclusiverecognitionofemployeeorganizationsand"appropriate"unitsofemployeesfor
collectivebargainingpurposes. (MMBA, 3507,subd.(a)(4).) MMBAsection 3509,
subdivision(c)empowersPERBto"enforceandapplyrulesadoptedbyapublicagency
concerningunitdeterminations,representation,recognition,andelections." Thus,anemployee
organizationmaychallengeapublicagency'sdeterminationmadepursuantto localrules
throughtheunfairpracticeprocedurebefore,PERB.ll (SeeCounty ofRiverside (2010)PERB
DecisionNo. 2119-M(Riverside).)
. Whenevaluatingapublicagency'sunitdeterminationunderlocalrules,PERB's
inquiryiswhethertheagency'sdeterminationwasreasonable. (City ofGlendale (2007)PERB
OrderNo. Ad-361-M(Glendale); Alameda County Assistant Public Defender's Assn. v.
County ofAlameda (1973)33 Cal.App.3d825,830(Alameda).) "Ifreasonablemindscould
differovertheappropriatenessofthedetermination,PERBshouldnotsubstituteitsjudgment
forthatof thelocalagency." (Riverside, supra, PERBDecisionNo.2119-Matp. 13,citing
. .
Organization ofDeputy Sheriffs v. County ofSan Mateo (1975)48 Cal.App.3d331,338
(San Mateo).) Alocalgovernmentemployerisnotrequiredto determine"theultimate unit or
most appropriateunit. Theactrequiresonlythattheunitbe'appropriate.'" (Alameda, supra,
atp.830,emphasisinoriginal;seealsoAntioch Unified School District (1977)EERB12
11 MMBAsection3507,subdivision(d)alsoprovidesamechanismforanemployee
organizationtochallengethatalocalruleisunreasonableandthereforeviolatestheMMBA.
Thereisno suchchallengehere,however,asSLOUSAstipulatedthatitdoesnotallegethat
theapplicablelocalrulesinthiscaseareunreasonable. (SeeJointFactualStipUlationNo.49.)
12 Priorto1978,PERBwasknownastheEducationalEmploymentRelationsBoard
(EERB).
10
Decision No. 3713.) The party challenging a public agency's unit determination bears
the burden of demonstrating that the decision was not reasonable (San Mateo, supra, at
pp. 338-339), and where that burden has not been met, the Board has refused to disturb the unit
determination. (Riverside, supra, PERB Decision No. 2119-M; Glendale, supra, PERBOrder
No. Ad-361-M.)
In Riverside, supra, PERB Decision No. 2119-M, an employee organization challenged
the employer's denial ofa petition seeking to create a new unit of temporary employees who
worked in a variety of different departments of the employer. The Board upheld the
employer's determination, even though there were some factors e ~ g . , a similar wage and
benefits structure) supporting a community of interest between the employees in the
petitioned-for unit. The Board found that there were other factors that weighed against finding
a community of interest, notably, the diversity ofjob functions performed and the fact that
permanent employees in analogous job classifications were spread across multiple units.
Therefore, the Board found the employer could reasonably conclude in that instance that the
proposed unit was not appropriate. (Id. at pp.'14-1S.)
Similarly, in Glendale, supra, PERB Order No. Ad-361-M, PERB refused to overturn
an employer's decision refusing to grant a severance petition. In that case, the petitioning
employee organization sought to carve out certain electrical services and power plant "skilled
crafts" classifications working in the employer's department of water and power from a
general employee unit represented by another organization. The petitioning employee
organization did not provide evidence that the employer's analysis under its local rules was
13 When interpreting the MMBA, it is appropriate to take guidance from cases
interpreting the National Labor Relations Act and California labor relations statutes with
parallel provisions. (Fire Fighters Union v. City o/Vallejo (1974) 12 Ca1.3d 608.)
11
unreasonable,butmerelyprovidedtoPERBa"virtuallyidenticalrecitationofarguments"that
ithadpresentedtotheemployer. (Id. atp. 3.) TheBoardnotedthattheemployer'slocalrules
setforthsimilarunitdeterminationcriteriaas consideredbythecourtsandPERB. (Id. at
pp.5-6.) TheBoardnotedthattheemployerhadanalyzedallofthecriteriaforunit
appropriateness,andfoundthattheemployerthenreasonablyconcludedthatthesought-after
employeessharedagreatercommunityofinterestwiththeexistingunit. TheBoardalsonoted
thatthepetitioningemployeeorganizationfailedtorefutethatthesought-afteremployees
lackedacommunityofinterestwiththeexistingunit. (Id. atp.6.)
Undertheauthoritiesdiscussedabove,SLOUSAhasfailedtomeetitsburdenof
demonstratingthattheCity'sunitdeterminationwasunreasonable. AsinGlendale, supra,
PERBOrderNo.Ad-361-M,theCityhereprovidedacomprehensiveanalysisofitscriteriafor
determininganappropriateunit,andthosecriteriaaresimilartothoseusedbythecourtsand
PERB. (Seealso,Santa Clara County DistrictAttorney Investigators Assn. v. County of
Santa Clara (1975)51 Cal.App.3d255,260;EducationalEmploymentRelationsAct(EERA),
3545,subd. (a).[14]) SimilartoRiverside, supra, PERBDecisionNo.2119-M,althoughsome
factorshereweighinfavorofacommunityofinterestbetweenutilitiesemployees(e.g.,thata
majorityofutilitiesclassificationsreceiveskillsbasedpayandworkatremotelocations),
severalothersweighagainstit.
Importantly,SLOUSAdoesnotrefutetheCity'sdeterminationsthatemployeesin
thewaterandwastewaterdivisionswerenotcross-trainedwitheach other, didnotworkwith
thesame specializedequipmentorperformthesameduties,anddidnothavethesame
specializedcertificationsandlicensingrequirements.IS Thus,theCity'sdeterminationthat
utilitiesemployeesdidnotsharesufficientcommunityofinterestwitheachotherinorderto
14 EERAiscodifiedatSection3540etseq.
15 Nordidallclassificationsineitherdivisionrequirespecializedcertifications.
12
formanappropriateunitcannotbefoundunreasonable. (Riverside, supra, PERBDecision
No.2119-M.) Furthermore,thefactthatutilitiesemployeescouldfeasiblybeputintheirown
separatebargainingunitdoesnot"compeltheCitytodoso. (Glendale, supra, PERBOrder
No.Ad-361-M[theMMBA,unliketheHigherEducationEmployer-EmployeeRelationsAct
(HEERA),16doesnotprovidearighttoaseparateunitofskilledtradesemployees].)
SLOUSAalsodoesnotrefutetheCity'sfindingsthat: (1)utilitiesemployeeswerenot
theonlyCityemployeespaidfromenterprisefunds (andthusthepetitioned-forunitwouldnot
includeallenterprisefundemployees);(2)manyotherclassificationsintheexistinggeneral
unitalsorequiredspecializedcertifications,licensing,andoversightbyStateregulatory
agencies; (3)utilitiesemployeesregularlyinteractedwithandreliedonexistingunit
employeesworkinginthefinance, informationtechnology,andpublicworksdepartments;or
(4)eightof thesought-afterclassificationsdidnotreceiveskillsbasedpay,butratherwere
paidunderthesamemethodsofsalarycalculationasemployeesintheexistingunit. Allof
thesefindingsamplysupportaconclusionthatutilitiesemployeesshareacommunityof
interestwitheachother. Therefore,itcannotbefoundthattheCity'sdeterminationthat
utilitiesemployeesshouldremaininthegeneralunitwasunreasonable. (Glendale, supra,
PERBOrderNo.Ad-361-M;Alameda, supra, 33 Cal.App.3d825,830.) Thus,theCity'sunit
determinationdidnotviolateitslocalrulesortheMMBA.
PROPOSEDORDER
Basedontheforegoingfindingsoffact, conclusionsoflaw,andtheentirerecordin
thismatter,thecomplaintandunderlyingunfairpracticechargeinCaseNo. LA-CE-764-M,
San Luis Obispo Utility Service Employees Association v. City ofSan Luis Obispo, arehereby
DISMISSED.
16 HEERAiscodifiedatSection3560etseq.
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..
RighttoAppeal .
PursuanttoCaliforniaCodeofRegulations,title8,section32305,thisProposed
DecisionandOrdershallbecomefinalunlessapartyfiles astatementofexceptionswiththe
PublicEmploymentRelationsBoard(PERBorBoard)itselfwithin20daysofserviceofthis
Decision. TheBoard'saddressis:
PublicEmploymentRelationsBoard
Attention: AppealsAssistant
103118thStreet
Sacramento,CA95811-4124
(916)322-8231
FAX:(916)327-7960
E-FILE:PERBe-file.Appeals@perb.ca.gov
InaccordancewithPERBregulations,thestatementofexceptionsshouldidentifyby
pagecitationorexhibitnumbertheportionsof therecord,ifany,relieduponforsuch
exceptions. (Cal.CodeRegs.,tit. 8, 32300.)
Adocumentisconsidered"filed"whenactuallyreceivedduringaregularPERB
businessday. (Cal.CodeRegs.,tit.8, 32135,subd.(a)and32130;seealsoGov. Code,
11020,subd.(a).) Adocumentisalsoconsidered"filed"whenreceivedbyfacsimile
transmissionbeforethecloseof businesstogetherwithaFacsimileTransmissionCoverSheet
orreceivedbyelectronicmailbeforethecloseof business,whichmeets.therequirementsof
PERBRegulation32135(d),providedthefilingpartyalsoplacestheoriginal,togetherwiththe
requirednumberofcopiesandproofofservice,intheU.S. mail. (Cal.CodeRegs.,tit. 8,
32135,subds. (b),(c)and(d);seealsoCal.CodeRegs.,tit. 8, 32090,32091 and32130.)
Anystatementofexceptionsandsupportingbriefmustbeservedconcurrentlywithits
filinguponeachpartytothisproceeding. Proofofserviceshallaccompanyeachcopyserved
onapartyorfiledwiththeBoarditself. (SeeCal. CodeRegs.,tit. 8, 32300,32305,32140,
and32135,subd.(c).)
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