Sacramento RTD Act Allows Managers And Supervisors To Have Union Representation

CATEGORY: Client Update for Public Agencies, Fire Watch, Law Enforcement Briefing Room
CLIENT TYPE: Public Employers, Public Safety
DATE: Oct 06, 2023

The Sacramento Regional Transit District operates bus and light rail services.  The District recognized AFSCME as the exclusive representative of a supervisory bargaining unit, as well as an administrative and a technical unit.  AFSCME then petitioned to represent another unit, comprised of 13 unrepresented District Superintendents.  The District and AFSCME were able to stipulate for a hearing officer on the petition that the Superintendents are supervisors.  But, the District claimed that Superintendents had no collective bargaining rights under the District’s enabling statute.

The District’s enabling statute in the California Public Utilities Code (PUC) was modeled after the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).  In 1947, Congress amended the NLRA to exclude supervisors from union representation.  The District claimed that therefore, supervisors and managers were also unable to unionize under the District’s enabling statute.

PERB pointed out that the U.S. Supreme Court had decided that the 1947 amendments to the NLRA should be interpreted to exclude not only supervisors, but also managers because the NLRA’s legislative history indicated that the Congress assumed that managers would be excluded.  PERB held that the District’s enabling statute did not specifically exclude managers or supervisors, nor did it have a legislative history similar to the NLRA.

PERB next looked at the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act (MMBA), which covers transit districts that do not have their own PUC enabling statutes.  PERB noted that the MMBA contains no exclusion for supervisors or managerial employees, and that appellate courts have found that the MMBA therefore affords collective bargaining rights to supervisors and managers.

PERB determined that the petitioned-for Superintendents have collective bargaining rights under the law.

Sacramento Regional Transit District v. AFSCME, PERB Decision No. 2871-P (August 31, 2023).

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