The Public Employees Relation Board (PERB) has ruled in favor of the Tulare County Employee’s Union versus the county. PERB has ordered Tulare County to “make whole” workers who were denied flex promotions and/or merit step increases that had been expressly promised them in a labor contract in 2011.
Service Employees International Union, Local 521 had signed an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) from August 1, 2009 through July 31, 2011 covering employees in five SEIU-represented bargaining units. Just weeks after the MOU went into effect–or on or about August 26,2009–Tulare County laid off about 55 employees. They claimed a $2 million cut to their budget.
Subsequently, Tulare County proposed furloughs and suspended step and merit increases for its newest employees. SEIU agreed but asked for two years instead of one with an understanding the new employee’s would not receive retroactive pay, but when the steps and merit were reinstated in 2011 they would be reset to the level they should have been if they had never been frozen.
On or about October of 2011, Tulare County ended the furloughs that had been imposed but the county refused to reset the merit and step increases to new employees that it had agreed to. Four years ago SEIU filed PERB charges against Tulare County. PERB ruled against Tulare County. PERB has now stated Tulare County must pay back the deserved one time promotions and wage increases, plus 7% interest accrued from August of 2011.
According to the Notice to Employees Posted by Order of the Public Employment Relations Board after a hearing in Unfair Practice Case, Service Employees International Union, Local 521 v. County of Tulare, it has been found that the County of Tulare (County) violated the Meyers-Milias Brown Act (MMBA), and committed an unfair practice by failing and refusing to meet and confer in good faith with the Service Employees International Union, Local 521 (SEIU) and unilaterally repudiating the terms of Addenda Band C of the County’s 2009-2011 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with SEIU.
The county will cease and desist from:
- Failing and refusing to meet and confer in good faith with SEIU by unilaterally imposing provisions that impair the vested rights of employees to flex promotions and merit step increases as set forth in the expired 2009-2011 MOU between the County and SEIU.
- Denying SEIU rights guaranteed by the MMBA to represent employees.
- Interfering with the rights of employees of the County to form, join and participate in the activities of employee organizations of their own choosing for the purpose of representation on all matters of employer-employee relations.
And, will take the following affirmative actions designed to effectuate the policies of the MMBA:
- Restore the prior status quo by rescinding the unilaterally imposed freeze on flex promotions and merit step increases, as set forth in the County’s Personnel Rules, and as incorporated by reference in Addenda Band C of the parties’ expired 2009-2011 MOU.
- Make whole the affected employees in flexible classifications by adjusting employee classifications and pay rates to the classification level and pay rate that would have occurred under the County’s Personnel Rules in the absence of Addenda B and C of the parties’ expired 2009-2011 MOU, and by granting employees such merit step increases as would have occurred under the County’s Personnel Rules iri the absence of Addenda Band C of the parties’ expired 2009-2011 MOU, with interest at seven (7) percent per annum accruing from the first payroll period following expiration of the 2009-2011 MOU.
The official notice will remain posted publicly for at least 30 days.