BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                  AB 646
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          Date of Hearing:   May 4, 2011

                              Warren T. Furutani, Chair
                    AB 646 (Atkins) - As Amended:  March 23, 2011
          SUBJECT  :   Local public employee organizations: impasse 

           SUMMARY  :   Establishes additional processes, including mediation 
          and factfinding, that local public employers and employee 
          organizations may engage in if they are unable to reach a 
          collective bargaining agreement.   Specifically,  this bill  :  

          1)Allows either party, if after a reasonable time they fail to 
            reach agreement, to request that the Public Employment 
            Relations Board (PERB) appoint a mediator to assist the 
            parties in reconciling differences.  If PERB determines that 
            an impasse exists, it is required to appoint a mediator within 
            five working days after receipt of the request at PERB's 

          2)Specifies that the parties are still able to utilize their own 
            negotiated and mutually agreed-upon mediation procedure, in 
            which case, PERB would not appoint a mediator, as specified.

          3)Authorizes either party to request a factfinding panel to 
            investigate the issues if the mediator is unable to settle the 
            matter and declares factfinding is appropriate.

          4)Specifies that the factfinding panel consist of one member 
            selected by each party and a chairperson selected by PERB or 
            by agreement of the parties.

          5)Authorizes the factfinding panel to make inquiries and 
            investigations, hold hearings, and take any other steps it 
            deems appropriate, and to issue subpoenas requiring the 
            attendance and testimony of witnesses and the production of 

          6)Requires any state agency, the California State University, or 
            any political subdivision of the state to furnish requested 
            information to the factfinding panel, as specified.


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          7)Specifies the criteria the factfinding panel should be guided 
            by in arriving at their finding and recommendations.

          8)Requires the factfinding panel to make findings of fact and 
            recommend terms of a settlement if the dispute is not settled 
            within 30 days.  This information must first be provided to 
            the parties being made available to the public.

          9)Requires the costs of the chairperson of the factfinding panel 
            to be paid for by PERB if PERB selected the chairperson.  If 
            the chairperson was mutually selected by the parties, the 
            costs will be divided equally between the parties.  Any other 
            costs incurred will be borne equally by the parties, as 

          10)Specifies that the parties are still able to utilize their 
            own negotiated and mutually agreed-upon factfinding procedure, 
            in which case, cost will be borne equally by the parties.

          11)Allows an employer to implement their last, best and final 
            offer once any applicable mediation and factfinding procedures 
            have been exhausted. 

           EXISTING LAW  , as established by the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act 

          1)Contains various provisions intended to promote full 
            communication between public employers and their employees by 
            providing a reasonable method of resolving disputes regarding 
            wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment 
            between public employers and public employee organizations.

          2)Provides that if, after a reasonable amount of time, 
            representatives of the public agency and the employee 
            organization fail to reach agreement, the two parties may 
            mutually agree on the appointment of a mediator and equally 
            share the cost.  If the parties reach impasse, the public 
            agency is not required to proceed to interest arbitration and 
            may implement its last, best and final offer.

          3)Authorizes a local public agency to adopt reasonable rules and 
            regulations after consultation in good faith with 
            representatives of an employee organization or organizations 
            for the administration of employer-employee relations under 
            the MMBA.


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          4)Delegates jurisdiction over the employer-employee relationship 
            to the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) and charges 
            PERB with resolving disputes and enforcing the statutory 
            duties and rights of local public agency employers and 
            employee organizations.

           FISCAL EFFECT  :   Unknown.

           COMMENTS  :   According to the author, "Currently, there is no 
          requirement that public agency employers and employee 
          organizations engage in impasse procedures where efforts to 
          negotiate a collective bargaining agreement have failed.  
          Without impasse procedures, negotiations may not be fully 
          effective, and bargaining may break down before all avenues for 
          agreement are explored.  Many municipalities and public agencies 
          promulgate local rules which include impasse rules and 
          procedures.  However, this requirement is not uniform, and the 
          lack of uniformity may serve to create confusion and 

          "The creation of mandatory impasse procedures is likely to 
          increase the effectiveness of the collective bargaining process, 
          by enabling the parties to employ mediation and fact-finding in 
          order to assist them in resolving differences that remain after 
          negotiations have been unsuccessful.  Mediators are often useful 
          in restarting stalled negotiations, by encouraging dialogue 
          where talks have broken down; identifying potential areas where 
          agreement may be reached; diffusing tension; and suggesting 
          creative compromise proposals.  Fact-finding panels can also 
          help facilitate agreement, by making objective, factual 
          determinations that can help the parties engage in productive 
          discussions and reach reasonable decisions." 

          Opponents state, "AB 646 undermines a local agency's authority 
          to establish local rules for resolving impasse and the 
          requirement that a local agency engage in factfinding may delay 
          rather than speed the conclusion of contract negotiations."  
          Opponents go on to say they are not aware of any abuses or 
          short-comings of the current process and question the need for 
          making such an important change in the process of reaching a 
          collective bargaining agreement.

          Opponents conclude, "Most importantly, the provisions in AB 646 
          could lead to significant delays in labor negotiations between 


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          public employers and employee organizations and result in 
          additional costs to public employers at a time when public 
          agencies are struggling to address budget shortfalls and 
          maintain basic services for their residents.  AB 646 would 
          provide a disincentive for employee organizations to negotiate 
          in good faith when there exists the option of further processes 
          under the PERB that will prolong negotiations.  Most 
          collectively bargained contracts are stalled due to cost-saving 
          measures being sought by the public agency in a downturned 
          economy; requiring mediation and factfinding prior to imposing a 
          last, best and final offer would simply add costs and be 
          unhelpful to both the employer and the employees."

          The Committee is informed the author will be offering amendments 
          in Committee that do the following: 

          1)Remove all of the provisions related to mediation, making no 
            changes to existing law.

          2)Remove the requirements that an employer and employee 
            organization submit their differences to a fact-finding panel 
            and instead provides employees organizations with the option 
            to participate in the fact-finding process established in 
            Government Section 3505.4, which is added by this measure. 

          3)Clarify the existing requirement for a public employer to 
            conduct a public impasse hearing prior to imposing its last, 
            best, and final offer.


          American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees 
          California Labor Federation

          Association of California Healthcare Districts
          California Association of Sanitation Agencies
          California State Association of Counties
          Desert Water Agency
          East Valley Water District
          El Dorado Irrigation District


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          Placer County Board of Supervisors
          Regional Council of Rural Counties
          Sacramento Municipal Utility District 
          Analysis Prepared by  :    Karon Green / P.E., R. & S.S. / (916)