Prohibiting Union-Related Insignia On University Vehicles Was Unlawful

CATEGORY: Client Update for Public Agencies, Fire Watch, Public Education Matters
CLIENT TYPE: Public Education, Public Employers, Public Safety
DATE: Dec 07, 2023

The University of California maintained a policy that prohibited decals, stickers, or signs on all University vehicles.  Eduardo Rosales was an electrician who drove an assigned University truck.  The Teamsters represented employees in the skilled trades, including Rosales.  Rosales put a Teamsters magnet on the bumper of his University truck.  The magnet had the union insignia and the message “We are Teamster Strong!”

Government Code Section 3565 of the labor relations statute that applies to higher education employees, gives them the right to participate in Union activities.  Yet, the University forced Rosales to remove the magnet even though other skilled workers at the University did not have to remove stickers or signs on their trucks that did not reference Teamsters.

Teamsters filed an unfair practice charge that alleged that the University interfered with Rosales’ protected rights by implementing a policy prohibiting a skilled trades employee from placing a union insignia magnet on a University vehicle.  The administrative law judge dismissed the allegation, finding the policy did not interfere with employee protected rights.  PERB disagreed.

PERB found that the Teamsters showed that the University interfered with union/employee rights because the University’s ban on union magnets contradicted years of PERB precedent.  In addition, the University did not show that the magnet negatively affected its operations.

Even though Teamster’s unfair practice charge did not allege discrimination, PERB mentioned that the University’s selective enforcement of its vehicle insignia policy was discriminatory.

Teamsters Local 2010 v. Regents Of The University Of California, PERB Decision No. 2880-H (October 24, 2023).

Key Takeaway:  An employer cannot lawfully target union insignia for differential treatment.

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