Thursday, July 1, 2010

Supreme Court: PERB Has Initial Jurisdiction Over Strikes

City of San Jose v. Operating Engineers Local Union No. 3 (Case No. S162647) (Issued on July 1, 2010)

The California Supreme Court has just issued its decision in City of San Jose.  The key holding is as follows:

"California allows public employees to go on strike to enforce their collective bargaining demands unless the striking employees perform jobs that are essential to public welfare. But whether a particular employee’s job is so essential that the employee may not legally strike is a complex and fact-intensive matter, and one on which public employee organizations and public entities may disagree.

Here, we address this issue: If a public entity is of the view that a threatened strike by its employees will be unlawful because a strike by some or all of the employees creates a substantial and imminent threat to public health and safety, must the public entity first file an unfair labor practice complaint with PERB and await PERB’s adjudication of the complaint before asking a court for an injunction prohibiting the strike?

We agree with the Court of Appeal that PERB has initial jurisdiction over a claim by a public entity that a strike by some or all of its employees is illegal. In addition, we conclude that a public entity must exhaust its administrative remedies before PERB before seeking judicial relief unless one of the recognized exceptions to the exhaustion of administrative remedies requirement is established."
I'll try to have more on this decision tomorrow.