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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Bad Faith Bargaining: Union Fails To Communicate With Employer's Designated Collective Bargaining Rep

OCTOBER 23, 2013 by ADMIN

PERC Examiner Finds that Union’s Refusal to Communicate with Employer’s Designated Collective Bargaining Rep is a ULP

By Therese Norton
Both unions and employers have the right to designate who represents them in the collective bargaining process. In Kiona Benton School District, PERC Hearing Examiner Guy Coss ruled, without a hearing, after a motion for “summary judgment”, that the Kiona Benton Education Association breached its duty to bargain in good faith by refusing to bargain with the School District’s designated collective bargaining representatives.

In this case, the District notified the union twice, and in writing, who it designated as its collective bargaining representatives. The union responded that it would only communicate with the superintendent and the union would “no longer” communicate with the employer’s designated representatives. The union argued that the employer essentially waived its right to designate a collective bargaining representative because it did not only use its designated representatives for collective bargaining purposes. The union also argued that the employer had been uncivil and difficult to deal with.    

Examiner Coss rejected both arguments explaining that the union’s refusal was “clear and unequivocal”: the union refused to “evercontact the employer’s designated representatives for any reason whatsoever;” and the union unilaterally “dictate[d] who the employer’s representative would be.”  The Examiner also explained that the uncivil behavior of the employer was “not material” because if the union had any complaints about the employer, the proper course of action would be for the union to file a complaint with PERC. Based on these reasons, the Examiner granted the employer’s motion for summary judgment.

The Examiner reiterated that the right to choose a representative extends equally to both the union and the employer.

“It is clear that both unions and employers have an important, though not absolute, right to designate those representatives that they feel are best qualified and positioned to represent them in collective bargaining.”

He continued by explaining,

“The Commission’s rules do not require parties’ representatives to be licensed attorneys or to hold any other license, training, or experience. It is up to each party to choose their own representatives based on the level of knowledge (legal or otherwise, experience, and training they feel is necessary to represent them.”


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