Fire Union Fails To Make Timely Demand To Negotiate Over Transfer Of Work

The South Placer Fire Administrative Officers Association represents a bargaining unit comprised of battalion chiefs working for the South Placer, California Fire Protection District. On September 21, 2005, the District’s governing board revised the job description for the EMS administrator. The revised position was designated a division chief position and renamed EMS Officer, Division Chief. Division chief positions are not included in the Association’s bargaining unit. On October 5, 2005, the District provided the Association with a revised job description for its operations manual.

On June 16, 2006, the District announced that eight days later, an employee would begin working in the new position. The Association demanded that the District collectively bargain over the issue. When the District refused, the Association filed an unfair labor practice charge.

California’s Public Employment Relations Board dismissed the complaint as being untimely. Under California law, a complaint must be filed within six months of when the alleged unfair labor practice occurred. This limitations period begins to run once the charging party knows, or should have known, of the conduct underlying the charge.

The Board held that “the Association knew the District revised the EMS administrative position on September 21, 2005. Accordingly, the Association had until March 1, 2006, to file its charge. Since the charge was filed on December 7, 2006, the charge was not timely filed and should be dismissed.”

The Association argued that the charge was not based on the District’s creation of a new classification, but rather the District’s notice to the Association that it intended to place an employee in the new classification. The Board disagreed, noting that it had “long rejected arguments that a unilateral change does not occur until it is implemented. Thus, a charging party that rests on its rights until actual implementation of the change bears the risk of running afoul of the statute of limitations.”

South Placer Fire Administrative Officers Association, PERB Decision No. 1944-M (Cal. PERB 2008).

This article appears in the April 2008 issue