In 2011, El Dorado County created a new classification (sheriff's security officer) for employees providing court perimeter security. The County placed the new classification in a general bargaining unit instead of its law enforcement unit since the sheriff's security officers would not have peace officer authority. The County also deleted several vacant positions from the law enforcement unit.
One year later, the El Dorado County Deputy Sheriff's Association, which represented the law enforcement unit, demanded to bargain over the decision to create the new classification even though it had actual notice of the decision before it was implemented. The County denied the Association's request to meet and confer.
The Association then filed a petition for writ of mandate, alleging that the County had not provided advance notice of the creation of the sheriff's security officer classification and had violated its duty to meet and confer. The trial court found that the County had no duty to bargain over the effects of the decision and that the Association had waived its right to bargain over the effects of the decision because it had actual advance notice before the change was made and did not make a demand to bargain. The Association contended on appeal that the trial court had erred because the County had a duty to give the Association notice, not only of the decision, but also of the foreseeable effects of the decision to establish the sheriff's security officer classification.
The Court of Appeal noted that the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act (MMBA) requires a public employer to meet and confer when it makes a decision that is a subject of bargaining, or when the effects of the decision are subject to bargaining, even if the decision itself is nonnegotiable. If a public employer has a duty to bargain over either the decision or the effects of the decision to implement a change, the employer must give notice to the employee organization so that it can make a demand to bargain. The Court of Appeal then decided the issue of whether the employer has a duty to give notice only of the decision, or whether the notice also had to include a specification of the reasonably foreseeable effects of the decision. The Court of Appeal held that the statutory or decisional law requires notice only of the decision, not the reasonably foreseeable effects of the decision. This holding is consistent with the clear wording of the MMBA and PERB decisional law. The Court directed the lower court to enter a new order invalidating the County's deletion of the vacant law enforcement bargaining unit positions, but otherwise affirmed the lower court's order in favor of the County.
The Association argued that the trial court's decision was inconsistent with PERB's decision in County of Santa Clara, PERB Dec. No. 2321. In that case, PERB considered whether an employee organization must first demand to bargain over the effects of a decision when the decision itself is nonnegotiable, even if the public employer did not give notice before implementing the decision. The Court determined that Santa Clara does not affect the outcome of the current case because, in Santa Clara, the Association had actual notice of the decision to create a new classification before the classification was implemented. This decision should offer some relief for agencies who have experienced eroding rights under recent PERB decisions.
El Dorado County Deputy Sheriff's Assoc. v. County of El Dorado (2016) 244 Cal.App.4th 950.