As a member of AFSCME Local 685, you have rights that are enshrined in the Myers-Milias-Brown Act (MMBA). It is important to note that workers who are not in a Union do not have these rights. When the employer violates these rights – specifically refusing to bargain in good faith as the County has clearly done – there is a process that the parties must follow to resolve the dispute. The following describes the process.
What is Impasse? What are the Rules?
After months of the County refusing to bargain in good faith, a stalemate in negotiations was reached. As a result, on Wednesday, March 8, Local 685 filed for “Impasse,” specifically focusing on the following issues:
Juvenile hall safety (including SYTF),
Special Pay Practices, and
Special Assignment Bonuses.
The County confirmed to the L.A. County Employee Relations Commission (ERCOM) that it agrees we are at Impasse and filed a concurrent but separate Declaration of Impasse with ERCOM. The County added Article 16 as an area of disagreement for Mediation. (Article 16 is the hard-fought article in our collective bargaining agreement (contract) that protects members’ rights from discrimination regarding promotions and reassignments.) Local 685 filed an amendment to our Impasse Declaration, specifically adding the Department’s attempt to involuntarily reassign 100 DPO II Field officers to the juvenile halls.
The following are the next steps in the Impasse process:
(1) ERCOM must officially approve the parties’ filings and make a finding that we are indeed at Impasse.
ERCOM’s Executive Officer has already notified the parties that she has made the determination of Impasse, and the Commission is expected to approve her determination at their regular March 20 meeting.
(2) ERCOM must select a mediator from the State Mediation and Conciliation Service.
The Commission’s Executive Officer has already selected a mediator from the State Mediation and Conciliation Service.
(3) The state mediator will convene meetings with the parties to establish the issues to be addressed and will seek to mediate between the parties.
The time frame for mediation is not set and depends on how much progress the state mediator can make with the parties. Mediation could take weeks, possibly months, depending upon the mediator’s view of any movement by the parties.
(4) If mediation proves unsuccessful, the next step in the Impasse process is “fact-finding,” during which a fact-finding panel will be selected and presented with factual assertions, evidence, exhibits, documents, declarations, and briefs, by both sides. This also could include testimony, then the panel will make a non-binding advisory written report to ERCOM with findings of facts and recommendations for resolution of the Impasse.
On Monday, March 13, CEO representatives met with your Executive Board to review the statutory requirements for the Union and Management that have to be complied with while the parties are at Impasse. The Duty to Bargain in Good Faith on wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment, including those matters that impact employee-employer relations, continues through the completion of the Impasse resolution process, which includes mediation and fact-finding procedures.
The following ground rules apply during these procedures:
The County is prohibited from taking unilateral action during Impasse regarding matters that are on the bargaining table.
The County is required to maintain the status quo and not make unilateral changes on mandatory subjects of bargaining that impact terms and conditions of employment.
The County and the Union have a continuing Duty to Bargain in Good Faith through the completion of Impasse.
The Union cannot engage in or support work stoppages, work actions, or concerted activity during Impasse as this is a breach of the duty to bargain in good faith.
Confidentiality of State Mediation Proceeding
Mediation is a confidential process in which a neutral person or persons facilitates communication between the parties to reach a mutually acceptable agreement. Mediation is not a public forum. All communications, negotiations, or settlement discussions by and between the participants in the course of the mediation, or a mediation consultation, are confidential and protected from disclosure.
Donald Washington, Esq.
Chief Negotiator, AFSCME Local 685