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The Employer Interviewing Union’s Witnesses: What Are The Rules?

The City of Commerce, California and the Commerce City Employees Association are parties to a memorandum of understanding (MOU), California’s equivalent to a collective bargaining agreement. The MOU has a grievance procedure culminating in binding arbitration. The Association filed a grievance over the City’s decision to terminate a member of the Association’s bargaining unit, Sergio Mejia. The grievance proceeded to arbitration, which was scheduled for two non-consecutive days. Following…

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Arbitrator’s ‘Release Time’ Opinion Upheld

For years, the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between Hudson County, New Jersey and Local 109 of the Police Benevolent Association (PBA) has had a provision that “the PBA president shall be granted reasonable release time from work duties to attend to union business during work time, provided that such release time shall in no way interfere with the operation or normal routine of the correctional facility or any other…

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Union Lacks Right To Record IA Interviews

Many peace officer bills of rights allow employee representatives to record disciplinary interviews. Even in the absence of a statutory bill of rights, a collective bargaining agreement can grant a labor organization the right to record interviews. But what if there is no statutory bill of rights, and the collective bargaining agreement is silent on the issue of recording? Is there some sort of recording right that springs out…

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Employer Has Right To Investigate Threats Made At Firefighters’ Union Meeting

In September 2014, a Hoboken, New Jersey fire captain filed a complaint with the Fire Chief. He alleged that, at two union meetings, two other fire captains harassed him and subjected him to a hostile work environment. The employer investigated the captain’s complaint. It ordered bargaining unit members who were present at the union meetings to submit written reports about the alleged threats. Local 1076 of the International Association…

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Even False Statements By Union May Be Protected

It’s not a public safety case, but a recent decision from the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board has an important lesson for public safety employers and labor organizations. The case involved the Moraine Valley Community College, which terminated Robin Meade for making untruthful statements. Meade was the president of the local teacher’s union. On August 20, 2013, while acting on behalf of the union, Meade sent a letter to…

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Union Has Power To Expel Member

A question that comes up from time to time is whether a public safety union has the right to discipline its own members. A recent decision from a New York trial court answers that question “yes,” provided that the union has followed its own bylaws in imposing the discipline. The case involved Raymond Montero, a member of the Police Association of the City of Yonkers. In January 2014, a…

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Union Loses Request For TRO To Stop Investigation Of President

Christopher Burgos is a New Jersey state trooper and the elected president of the State Troopers Fraternal Association of New Jersey, the union representing all New Jersey state troopers below the rank of sergeant. As president, Burgos represents the union during labor negotiations and supports union members facing internal discipline, regularly acting as a liaison between the State Police Office of Professional Standards (OPS) and union members and their…

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Union Has Right To Conduct Parallel Disciplinary Investigation

When one of its members was the subject of a disciplinary investigation, the Washington State Patrol Troopers Association assigned Executive Board member Spike Unruh to represent the member. Unruh called three bargaining unit employees who were potential witnesses in the investigation. He told the employees he was representing the employee and asked what they had observed. Unruh spoke with Captain Karen DeWitt multiple times. During the initial discussion, DeWitt…

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Discussions At Union E-Board Meeting Privileged

On or about August 8, 2009, the Executive Board of the Merced County Sheriff’s Employees Association (MCSEA) met with the Association’s attorney Barry Bennett to discuss a variety of employment issues. At the meeting, an incident from the previous day was discussed where several inmates at the Main Jail attacked another inmate in the Main Jail yard. According to the information about the incident provided to the Association’s Board,…

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Union Can Conduct Simultaneous Disciplinary Investigation

A question that arises from time to time is whether a labor organization has a right to conduct an investigation concurrently with the employer’s disciplinary investigation. An administrative law judge for Washington’s Public Employment Relations Commission has answered the question “yes,” provided the union’s investigation does not interfere with the employer’s. The case involved the Washington State Patrol (WSP) and the Washington State Patrol Trooper’s Association, which represents rank-and-file…

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California Legislature Adopts Release Time Measure

On September 9, 2013, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a bill known as AB 1181. The bill will grant release time with pay for union representatives. Under the terms of the bill, public agencies “shall” allow a “reasonable” number of representatives time off with pay when they are engaged in any of the following activities: (1) Formally meeting and conferring with representatives of the public agency on…

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Union Has No Obligation To Allow Fair Share Members To Vote On Contract

Melanie Stallings Williams and Demosthenes Andrew Halcoussis are professors at California State University, Northridge, and are members of the faculty bargaining unit represented by the California Faculty Association. The collective bargaining agreement has a “fair share” clause allowing individuals to be non-members of the Association if they pay to the Association a “fair share” assessment, also known as an “agency fee.” The agency fee amount is equal to the…

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Individual Must Be Employee For Union Interference Statute To Apply

A Florida statute makes it an unfair labor practice for a public employer to interfere with, restrain or coerce a “public employee” who is engaged in union activity. The Florida Court of Appeals, reversing a decision of Florida’s Public Employment Relations Board, found that an employer’s refusal to hire an applicant could not be covered by the statute. The case involved Jeffrey Stanley, who worked for the Broward County…

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Court Upholds Paid Union Leave Statute That Benefits Only Some Public Safety Unions

A New Jersey statute provides for paid leave for public safety officers to attend union conventions, but only if they are “affiliated with the New Jersey Policemen’s Benevolent Association, Inc., Fraternal Order of Police, Firemen’s Mutual Benevolent Association, Inc. or the Professional Fire Fighters Association of New Jersey.” The four organizations are the largest public safety unions in the state. Two smaller police unions brought a lawsuit challenging the…

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Participation In Police Union Election Can Be Protected By First Amendment

Anthony Ferraioli, Aldrin Lamboy, and Dawn Fray are police officers with the City of Hackensack, New Jersey. In June 2008, an election for the position of delegate to the New Jersey Police Benevolent Association (PBA), a labor organization representing police officers, was held in the locker room of Police Department headquarters. As all three officers later alleged, the Police Chief made it known to all officers in the Department…

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Expulsion From FOP Not A Federal Case

Shawn Hallinan and Wayne Harej are longtime City of Chicago police officers and were members in good standing of the City’s police union, Lodge 7 of the Fraternal Order of Police. Hallinan and Harej were opposed to the policies of Lodge 7’s president, Mark Donahue. During the March 2005 election cycle, Hallinan and Harej formed an opposition slate of 20 candidates to oppose Donahue and the incumbent officers. During…

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‘Union Leave’ Provision In Arbitrator’s Award Not Enforceable

When the Pennsylvania State Troopers Association and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania were unable to agree upon a collective bargaining agreement, their disputes were resolved by an arbitrator. One of the provisions in the Arbitrator’s award was that Union officers should be released from duty and “shall be paid by the Commonwealth at the amount designated by the Association’s Board of Directors, not to exceed the rate of the highest-ranking…

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Trooper Improperly Suspended For Engaging In Union Activity

Scott Nichols has been a trooper with the Michigan State Police (MSP) for 19 ½ years, and has been the representative for the Michigan State Police Troopers Association at the Lansing post. In 2007, the MSP was considering a reorganization plan that would have transferred part of Clinton County, Michigan away from the Lansing post. Nichols was critical of the plan. At one point, Nichols gave a television interview…

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