On August 1, 2019, Teamsters Local 1932 sent a notice to County of San Bernardino CEO Gary McBride informing him that our union has filed an unfair labor practice charge with the Public Employment Relations Board against the County for unilaterally implementing changes to healthcare plans in May 2019 AND for deducting premiums from its members’ paychecks at new rates in late July 2019. Both actions are illegal while our union and the County are in negotiations over healthcare. The law is clear on this issue and the County’s actions reflect its disconnect with the struggle with healthcare costs that so many County workers face. Teamsters Local 1932 will work towards ensuring that the County reimburses County employees affected by its unlawful unilateral changes and deductions.
Read our full message below:
Dear Mr. McBride,
Please be advised that the law firm of Hayes, Ortega & Sánchez, LLP is General Counsel for Teamsters Local 1932 (“Local 1932”) and represents it in the above-referenced matter. The purpose of this letter is to apprise you of certain unlawful actions taken by the County of San Bernardino (“County”), which have significant impacts on Local 1932’s membership.
As you are likely aware, on June 4, 2019, Local 1932 filed an unfair labor practice charge (“Charge”) against the County with the Public Employment Relations Board (“Board”). The basis of Local 1932’s Charge is that the County unilaterally implemented changes to the healthcare plans offered to Local 1932 members and County employees in violation of the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act, California Government Code sections 3500, et seq. (“MMBA”). Specifically, Local 1932 and the County are currently in negotiations for a successor Memorandum of Understanding, and these negotiations have involved discussions about healthcare since at least April 15, 2019. Further, the County explicitly acknowledged in written correspondence to Local 1932 four months ago that healthcare “benefits is an item that is subject to collective bargaining.” Nevertheless, the County implemented changes to those very benefits while negotiations over the same were continuing.
The County’s unilateral action in this respect is a clear violation of the MMBA and California law. See Regents of the University of California (2012) PERB Decision No. 2300-H, at p. 20 (holding that the duty to refrain from taking unilateral action concerning negotiable terms and conditions of employment applies in all stages of the collective bargaining process, including during negotiation of successor contracts); Social Services Union v. Board of Supervisors (1990) 222 Cal.App.3d 279, 285 (recognizing that group insurance benefits is a mandatory subject of bargaining). Local 1932 is confident that the Board will issue a Complaint in this matter, finding that the County violated the MMBA when it unilaterally implemented changes to healthcare benefits in the middle of negotiations for a successor contract.
Moreover, Local 1932 was recently informed that the County has now started deducting premiums from its members’ paychecks at the new rates for the unilaterally implemented healthcare plans. Due to the actual damages now being suffered by Local 1932’s membership, Local 1932 will be amending its Charge to include these allegations. Local 1932’s amended Charge will also seek an order from the Board that the County reimburse its employees (with interest) for losses suffered as a result of the County’s unlawful unilateral change, among other requested remedies.
Local 1932 sincerely hopes that the County will reconsider its decision to unilaterally change terms and conditions of its members’ employment while negotiations are ongoing. Local 1932 further requests that the County comply with the MMBA and refrain from taking any other unilateral action during the course of negotiations.