A California Public Employee Relations Board (PERB) Judge has issued a decision blasting the University of California (UC) for multiple violations of state labor law by sending mass communications that interfered with California public sector workers’ rights to form or join a union. In an extremely rare move, the judge also ordered the University of California to pay Teamsters Local 2010’s legal fees, finding the violations to be intentional and egregious.
“This decision exposes UC’s scandalous practice of using public funds for illegal union-busting activity,” said Jason Rabinowitz, Local 2010 Secretary-Treasurer. “Every worker should have the freedom to join together in a union without employer interference, yet UC managers repeatedly violated the law because they thought they could get away with it. Now they are on the hook for the union’s legal fees, in addition to the cost of their own high-priced attorneys. Hopefully UC will learn the right lesson, so it starts following the law and respecting workers’ rights.”
Local 2010 filed the initial unfair labor practice charge with the PERB in May 2019, following a series of communications sent by UC containing what it called “information for administrative professionals.” The workers who received the communication were all members of unrepresented job classifications that are similar in duties and scope to those currently represented by the Local 2010 Clerical and Administrative Services (CX) unit. Local 2010 has been working to organize them into the union.
The PERB found that UC’s communication unlawfully discouraged workers from exercising their right to join Local 2010 by using false and misleading statements to denigrate unions and mislead its staff about the benefits of joining one. The decision also orders UC to post a notice in the workplaces of all administrative professionals explaining that the university was found in violation of state labor law.
Under SB 931, a new state law sponsored by Teamsters that became effective on January 1, 2023, any future violations of this nature by UC will be subject to fines of up to $100,000 per complaint and $1,000 per affected employee.
“This case shows why we needed to pass SB 931, in order to stop union-busting employers from intentionally violating labor law with impunity,” Rabinowitz said. “With this new law, and our legal victory in this case, UC and other public employers will think twice before they engage in illegal activity.”
Published Feb. 1, 2023