Three members of the California School Employees Association and its Chapter 47 (CSEA) filed an unfair practice charge with PERB alleging that CSEA failed to provide its financial report to a CSEA member. Specifically, on October 10, 2012, a CSEA steward, requested "financial records (Treasurer's Report)" from the CSEA president. The request included chapter funds, income for the reporting period and all receipts. CSEA responded that the financial records of the chapter were located at the former chapter president's home, but that the steward was not entitled to the financial documents.
The unfair practice charge was based on Section 3546.5 of the Education Employment Relations Act (EERA). According to Section 3546.5, a recognized or certified employee organization must "make available [to its members] . . . within 60 days after the end of its fiscal year, a detailed written financial report."
The PERB Office of the General Counsel dismissed the unfair practice charge, reasoning that the charge failed to establish that the request for financial records was made within 60 days after the end of CSEA's fiscal year. The PERB Office of the General Counsel also found that the request for financial documents was too broad because it included documents that did not fall within Section 3546.5. CSEA appealed.
First, on appeal PERB disagreed with the General Counsel's finding that the request for financial documents was too late. PERB found nothing in the plain language of Section 3546.5 that created a 60-day window during which a member must request the organization's financial report. Rather, PERB interpreted Section 3546.5 as giving unions up to 60 days from the end of the fiscal year to prepare and make available the financial reports. Then, it is the union member's request for the reports that triggers the union's obligation under Section 3546.5 to provide the report. Based on this interpretation, the General Counsel's dismissal of the unfair practice charge was inappropriate.
Second, PERB disagreed with the General Counsel's finding that the request was too broad. It held that a request for "financial records (Treasurer's Report)" was sufficiently detailed to give notice to CSEA that the request triggered obligations under Section 3546.5. Accordingly, PERB ordered CSEA to produce the documents required by Section 3546.5 for the fiscal year in question.
Shampine v. California School Employees Association & Its Chapter 47 (2014) PERB Decision No. 2355 [__ PERC ¶__].