By Oshea V. Orchid

Earlier this month Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 285, strengthening the right of public employees to engage in union activity.  This legislation was authored by Senator Toni Atkins.

Currently, public employers are barred from interfering with, intimidating, restraining, coercing or discriminating against employees while those employees are exercising their right to have union representation. SB 285 strengthens the law by making it clear that not only do public employees have the right to form a union or engage in union activities without interference – they also have the right to remain as members of a union without interference, intimidation or coercion.  PERB has jurisdiction to enforce this new law.

The new law will be added to the government code as follows:

CHAPTER  11. Prohibition on Public Employers Deterring or Discouraging Union Membership.

  1. A public employer shall not deter or discourage public employees from becoming or remaining members of an employee organization.
  2. The Public Employment Relations Board shall have jurisdiction over violations of this chapter. The powers and duties of the board described in Section 3541.3 shall apply, as appropriate, to this chapter.
  3. For the purpose of this chapter:

(a) “Employee organization” means an employee organization within the meaning of the provisions listed in subdivision (c).

(b) “Public employee” means an employee granted rights by the provisions listed in subdivision (c).

(c) “Public employer” means any employer subject to Chapter 10 (commencing with Section 3500), Chapter 10.3 (commencing with Section 3512), Chapter 10.7 (commencing with Section 3540), or Chapter 12 (commencing with Section 3560) of Division 4 of Title 1, Chapter 7 (commencing with Section 71600) or Chapter 7.5 (commencing with Section 71800) of Title 8 of this code, or Chapter 7 (commencing with Section 99560) of Part 11 of Division 10 of the Public Utilities Code, or Section 12302.25 of the Welfare and Institutions Code.