Tuesday, May 31, 2011

SB 259 Would Open Door to Unionizing Student Research Assistants

SB 259 was introduced by Senator Hancock on February 10, 2011.  SB 259 would amend the Higher Education Employer-Employee Relations Act (HEERA) to cover student employees whose employment is contingent upon their status as students, without any other conditions.  Currently, HEERA section 3562(e) defines “employee” to include student employees if the employment is contingent on their status as students and “only if the services they provide are unrelated to their educational objectives, or that those educational objectives are subordinate to the services they perform and that coverage under this chapter would further the purposes of this chapter.”  SB 259 eliminates the latter requirement.

According to the Legislative analysis, the genesis of this bill is PERB’s decision in Regents of the UC & Association of Student Employees, UAW, et al (1998) (PERB Order No. 1301-H) in which PERB held that University of California Teaching Assistants (TAs), Readers, and Tutors had bargaining rights under HEERA, but that Research Assistants (RAs) did not. This bill would grant RAs bargaining rights under HEERA by deleting the statutory language that student employees only have bargaining rights if their employment is unrelated to their educational objectives.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

AB 1318 Would Limit Damages for Unlawful Strikes

AB 1318 was introduced by Assemblymember Davis on February 18, 2011. No action has been taken on this bill yet. AB 13818 would limit an employer’s ability to obtain a “make-whole” remedy when faced with an unlawful strike. Specifically, this bill provides that an employer may not obtain damages for 1) revenue losses caused by an unlawful strike; and 2) expenses incurred by the employer in anticipation of, or in preparation for, the strike.

This bill was obviously motivated by the California Nurses Association’s threatened strike against the University of California (UC) in 2005. That threatened pre-impasse strike was found to be an unlawful pressure tactic by PERB in 2010. (California Nurses Association (2010) PERB Decision No. 2094-H.) As part of that decision, PERB ordered CNA to pay for any damages suffered by UC. Proceedings before PERB on the amount of those damages are continuing to this day.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Governor Appoints New PERB Chair, Board Member and General Counsel

Governor Brown has appointed Anita Martinez and Eugene Huguenin to the five-member Public Employment Relations Board (PERB).  They will join Alice Dowdin Calvillo and Sally McKeag as the four members of PERB.  There is still one vacancy to be filled.  Anita Martinez was also named Chair of PERB.  The Governor also appointed Suzanne Murphy as PERB's new General Counsel.  Here are the bios of the appointees from the Governor's new release:

Anita Martinez, 58, of Oakland, has been appointed member and chair of the Public Employment Relations Board. She has worked for the Board since 1976, where she currently serves as a regional director. Previously, Martinez was a board agent for the Agricultural Labor Relations Board from 1975 to 1976. She was an intern at the National Labor Relations Board from 1973 to 1976. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $132,179. Martinez is a Democrat

A. Eugene Huguenin, 68, of Rancho Murieta, has been appointed to the Public Employment Relations Board. He has been the owner of the Huguenin Law Office since 2001. Huguenin was staff counsel at the California Teachers Association from 1979 to 2000, after serving as a consultant from 1973 to 1979. Huguenin has also served as a commissioner on the Fair Political Practices Commission from 2005 to 2009. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $128,109. Huguenin is a Democrat.

M. Suzanne Murphy, 58, of Lafayette, has been appointed general counsel of the Public Employment Relations Board. She has been a law clerk to the late Honorable Cynthia Holcomb Hall, senior judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit since 2009, and where she previously clerked from 1988 to 1989. Murphy was the executive director of Worksafe from 2008 to 2009. She was legal counsel for the California Nurses Association from 2006 to 2007. Previously, Murphy was an appellate and litigation attorney with Weinberg, Roger and Rosenfeld from 2003 to 2006. She also worked for the Administrative Office of the Courts where she was managing attorney at the Center for Families, Children & the Courts from 2002 to 2003 and supervising attorney for the rules and projects unit in the Office of the General Counsel from 2000 to 2002. Previously, she was a senior research attorney to the Honorable Patricia Sepulveda from 1999 to 2000 and to the Honorable Michael Phelan from 1993 to 1998, both of the California Court of Appeal, First District. Murphy was an associate with Heller, Ehrman, White & McAuliffe from 1992 to 1993 and with Cooley, Godward, Castro, Huddleston & Tatum from 1989 to 1991. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $126,864. Murphy is registered decline-to-state.