Gilbert & Sackman attorneys prevail in Oak Valley Hospital District case

On September 10, 2018, Gilbert & Sackman attorneys prevailed in Oak Valley Hospital District, PERB Decision No. 2583-M (2018), in which the California Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) held that most public employers cannot decertify their employees’ labor union without a majority vote of the employees. The decision overruled the ALJ’s initial opinion which would have incorporated a decision from the federal, private-sector NLRB called Levitz Furniture Co., 333 NLRB 717 (2001). Under Levitz Furniture Co., an employer may unilaterally oust its employees’ union without allowing the employees a vote, if it possesses “objective evidence” that the union has lost majority support. The Levitz Furniture Co. decision has been criticized for giving employers a way to undercut workplace democracy. The PERB, however, held that under the relevant statute, Levitz Furniture Co. does not apply, and a California public employer cannot unilaterally withdraw recognition from its employees’ union without a majority vote of the employees.

This decision interprets the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act which regulates the collective bargaining rights of employees of every public agency in the state, including most city and county employees. There are a few exceptions, however. For example, teachers, transit employees, and superior court employees, among others, are covered by separate statutes.

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