In the wake of the landmark decision of Janus v. AFSCME, Governor Brown signed SB 866 into law on June 27. The legislation was incorporated into the recently enacted state budget. The new law authorizes employee organizations to request payroll deductions and requires public employers to honor such requests. Significantly, the new law requires agencies to honor the organization’s dues deductions request based on the organization’s certification of individual employee authorizations and to direct employee requests to cancel or change deductions for employee organizations to the employee organization, rather than to the public employer. SB 866 applies to the vast majority of employers covered by Public Employment Relations Board (PERB).
Specifically, SB 866 makes several changes to the union dues deduction process, including:
- Employers must allow for payroll deductions for union dues.
- Any request to begin dues deductions or cancel dues deductions must be made to the union, and not the employer.
- The union is responsible for letting the employer know the amount of dues deductions for employees.
- The employer must accept the information provided by the union on dues deductions for employees.
- If a union states it has written authorization to begin deductions, it is not required to provide the employer a copy of the individual authorization unless a dispute arises about the existence or terms of the authorization.
- The union must indemnify the employer for any claims made by employees as a result of the payroll deductions.
- If an employer “chooses to disseminate mass communications to public employees or applicants to be public employees concerning public employees’ rights to join or support an employee organization, or to refrain from joining or supporting an employee organization, it shall meet and confer with the exclusive representative concerning the content of the mass communication.”
- If the parties cannot reach agreement and the employer decides to go ahead with its proposed mass communication, it must also distribute a communication of reasonable length provided by the union.
“While the Supreme Court’s Janus ruling is yet another blow to public-sector unions, the passage of SB 866 is welcomed and surprising piece of legislation signed by Governor Brown, who is no stranger to threatening unions in the past over pensions,” says LAAPOA President Marshall McClain. “SB 866 is necessary because it prohibits public employers from deterring or discouraging its employees from becoming or remaining members of a union and it safeguards against communications with anti-union or anti-law enforcement sentiments.”