PERB: Riverside County Unlawfully Denied Petition for Temporary Workers Unit
The Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) recently ruled that the County of Riverside unlawfully denied SEIU Local 721’s petition to represent the County’s temporary employees. (PERB Decision No. 2163-M). The County appealed the decision to the Court of Appeal and the California Supreme Court, but its appeals were denied.
In August of 2008, SEIU Local 721 petitioned Riverside County for a new bargaining unit consisting of the County’s temporary employees in the Temporary Assistance Program (“TAP”). SEIU obtained authorization cards from approximately 1,000 temporary employees in the TAP program requesting that SEIU be their bargaining representative, and submitted the cards to the County for recognition under the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act (MMBA). The County rejected SEIU’s petition, but PERB found that all of the County’s reasons were unlawful and in violation of the County’s Employee Relations Ordinance and the MMBA, with the exception of the County’s argument that the petition included classifications of employees that were too diverse and therefore did not have a sufficient community of interest. PERB found that since the TAP temporary employees worked for the County during several pay periods, they had a reasonable expectation of continued employment and could lawfully be included under the MMBA in a bargaining unit. PERB also rejected the County’s argument that it could deny the petition because of a need to bargain with other County unions. Finally, PERB found that the County interfered with the rights of SEIU to organize employees and with the employees’ right to form and join a union when the Board of Supervisors in open session threatened to shut down the TAP program if the County was forced to negotiate with SEIU.