California State University Must Bargain Over Increase In Workload of Mental Health Clinicians
The Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) ordered that a complaint be issued against California State University (CSU) for failing to bargain over the impacts that increasing mental health services to its students will have on the workload of its union-represented mental health clinicians (MHCs). PERB held that it was "reasonably foreseeable" that CSU's decision to increase mental health services would lead to an increase in the MHCs' workload from 40 hours per week (the amount provided for in the parties' collective bargaining agreement) to 44 to 46 hours per week. Under the Higher Education Employer-Employee Relations Act (HEERA), CSU's executive order increasing mental health services was a "firm decision" that, although itself was non-negotiable, obligated CSU to provide notice to the MHCs' union and a reasonable opportunity to negotiate prior to the increase in mental health services.
PERB clarified its standard for when the "effects bargaining" obligation is triggered, stating that the effects on workload or other terms and conditions of employment must only be "reasonably likely to occur," and need not have already occurred. Since the MHCs' union identified a reasonably foreseeable effect on workload, CSU was obligated to meet and negotiate in good faith over those potential impacts prior to increasing the level of mental health services.
By Russell Naymark