Public Sector Employer Cannot Avoid Factfinding by Avoiding the Word “Impasse”

After negotiating with the Union about an issue within the scope of representation, the City of Salinas advised the Union that it had fulfilled its obligations under the applicable labor relations law and was proceeding to implement its proposal.

The Union requested clarification regarding whether the employer was declaring impasse.  The employer did not answer that question.

The Union proceeded to file for factfinding under the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act, but the PERB Office of General Counsel (“OGC”) denied the request because the employer had avoided using the word “impasse.”  However, the Public Employment Relations Board (“PERB”), reversing the OGC’s determination, held that factfinding must be granted.  (City of Salinas (2018), PERB Decision No. Ad-457-M.)

The PERB Board determined the facts showed that the employer had indeed declared impasse.  PERB emphasized that it must look to the substance of a party’s words, not their form, to determine legal effect, and that the Union had met its obligation to request clarification when the employer’s statement was ambiguous.

Since the employer took the position that it had met its obligation to meet and confer and that it was proceeding with implementation of its proposal, and since the employer did not answer the Union’s request for clarification as to whether it was declaring impasse, the Union had the right to request factfinding.

For more information regarding factfinding or impasse, please contact your labor law counsel.

By Anne Yen | March 12, 2018

Legal Developments