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UC Applied Correct Wage Increase To An Unrepresented Classification That Was Added To A Bargaining Unit
Teamsters Local 2010 (Teamsters) petitioned to add the unrepresented classification of Administrative Officer II (AO2) to the clerical bargaining unit it represented. The University of California (UC) did not object, and the AO2s “accreted” to the Teamsters unit in October 2020. The post-accretion negotiations required UC and the Teamsters to divide the AO2 pay range at each campus into discrete steps, and to place incumbent AO2’s to each step. Adding to the complexity of the negotiations, was that some campuses provided unrepresented AO2s more favorable bonuses under incentive award programs (IAPs) that the Teamsters clerical unit received. A dispute arose involving IAPs while the post-accretion negotiations were pending.
The Teamsters filed unfair practice charges alleging, among other things, that the UC unilaterally changed the status quo in violation of the Higher Education Employer-Employee Relations Act (HEERA) when it applied the IAP provisions from the existing Teamsters collective bargaining agreement (CBA) to the AO2s while the post-accretion negotiations were pending. An administrative law judge agreed with the Teamsters.
The UC appealed to the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB). The case turned on how to identify the status quo when a wage adjustment comes due for the accreted employees during the post-accretion negotiations. UC argued that it followed the status quo by giving the AO2s: the wage increase they would have received if they had remained unrepresented; and the IAP provision in the Teamsters unit’s existing CBA. The Teamsters argued that the AO2s prior coverage in different IAP tiers from those in the Teamsters’ unit made the IAP issue “unique” and therefore not covered by the Teamsters’ existing CBA while the post-accretion negotiations were pending.
PERB dismissed the charge. PERB found that after a mid-CBA accretion, both parties have a mutual duty to bargain over terms and conditions of employment for newly added or “accreted” employees. Depending on the length of that bargaining, one or more of the regular wage adjustment cycles may occur before post-accretion negotiations are complete. To maintain the status quo in a wage adjustment cycle that occurs during post-accretion negotiations, the employer must normally afford accreted employees all CBA-mandated wage adjustments. However, if it is unclear how one or more of the CBA’s adjustments should apply, then the status quo for that cycle is the adjustments the accreted employees would have received had they remained unrepresented.
PERB found the UC properly maintained the status quo as to the wage adjustments for the AO2s while the post-accretion negotiations were pending. First, both parties concurred that AO2 wages should be adjusted as the unrepresented employee wages for that year. The AO2s had a continuous wage range that was not divided into steps at the time of accretion, while the operative CBA required a step increase. Thus, it was unclear how one or more of the CBA step increases applied to the AO2s, and the status quo required that they be treated as if they had remained unrepresented. Second, the Teamsters’ CBA was sufficiently clear as to the IAP provision given that the three campuses with a more favorable IAP provision for unrepresented employees had relied upon a CBA provision that tied clerical employees’ IAP eligibility to that of other represented employees.
Note: PERB’s analysis broadly applies to public sector employees and may be helpful to MMBA-covered public agencies as they respond to requests from employee representatives to add temporary employees into existing bargaining units as a result of new Government Code Section 3507.7 (aka AB 1484).