Wednesday, July 6, 2011

ACTION REQUIRED: Legislation to tilt the tables

There's a bill in front of the Assembly right now, and it's about as blatent a piece of lobbying as I've ever seen.

On the surface, SB 931 seems innocuous. The first two paragraphs are as follows:

SECTION 1. Section 3506 of the Government Code is amended
to read:
3506. (a) Public agencies and employee organizations shall
not interfere with, intimidate, restrain, coerce or discriminate
against public employees because of their exercise of their rights
under Section 3502.
(b) Public agencies shall not use public funds to pay outside
consultants or legal advisors for the purpose of counseling the
public employer about ways to minimize or deter the exercise of
rights guaranteed under this chapter.

Supports of the bill would claim that they're just trying to keep employers like LASD from interfering with the employee rights to organize and negotiate. However, as it is written, the law has two major flaws:
1) It prohibits the use of public funds for things that are already illegal (such as interfering with the right to unionize)
2) it is written so broadly that is could be construed to deter districts from doing basic things like discussing our negotiating position.

(See the full text of the bill here)

During our negotiations with the LATA, we are well represented by a Board member and several members of our administrative team. Our teachers union also brings in a representative of the California Teacher's Association. The CTA has zero interest in our community, except that they don't want Los Altos teachers negotiating a position that other districts might adopt. My anger here is not hypothetical. In our most recent negotiations with our bargaining units, we had reached a conceptual agreement on some key labor & wage concessions. Once the CTA arrived on the scene, those agreements went out the window. This is a case of an outside group with no stake in the discussion disrupting what we as a community value and have worked hard to build.

Under this new law, it would be possible for unions to file suit against districts for any perceived action that they thought discouraged a host of activities that are already legally protected.

I would ask constiuents to contact the legislative offices of State Senator Joe Simitian and Assemblyman Rich Gordon to vote down this ridiculous piece of legislation.

Email Joe Simitian's Office
Office of Senator Joe Simitian
Palo Alto District Office
160 Town & Country Village
Palo Alto, CA 94301
Phone: (650) 688-6384

Email Rich Gordon's office
Office of Assemblyman Rich Gordon
Twenty-First District
5050 El Camino Real, Suite 117
Los Altos, CA 94022
Tel: 650-691-2121