BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                  AB 646
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          AB 646 (Atkins)
          As Amended June 22, 2011
          Majority vote
          |ASSEMBLY:  |50-25|(June 1, 2011)  |SENATE: |23-14|(August 31,    |
          |           |     |                |        |     |2011)          |
           Original Committee Reference:    P.E.,R.& S.S.  

           SUMMARY  :  Allows local public employee organizations to request 
          fact-finding if a mediator is unable to reach a settlement 
          within 30 days of appointment, defines certain responsibilities 
          of the fact-finding panel and interested parties, and makes 
          specified exemptions from these provisions.  Specifically,  this 
          bill  :

          1)Requires the fact-finding panel shall meet with the parties 
            within 10 days after appointment and take other steps it deems 
            appropriate.  Specifies that the fact-finding panel consist of 
            one member selected by each party and a chairperson selected 
            by the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) or by 
            agreement of the parties.

          2)Authorizes the fact-finding 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 

          3)Requires state and local public agencies, if requested by the 
            panel, to furnish the panel with all records, papers and 
            information in their possession relating to any matter under 
            investigation by the panel.

          4)Specifies the criteria the fact-finding panel should be guided 
            by in arriving at their findings and recommendations.

          5)Requires the fact-finding 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 before being made available to the public.


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          6)Requires the costs of the chairperson of the fact-finding 
            panel to be paid for by both parties whether or not PERB 
            selected the chairperson.  Any other costs incurred will be 
            borne equally by the parties, as specified.

          7)Allows an employer to implement their last, best and final 
            offer once any applicable mediation and fact-finding 
            procedures have been exhausted and despite the implementation 
            of the best and final offer, allows a recognized employee 
            organization the right each year to meet and confer.

          8)Exempts a charter city, charter county, or a charter city and 
            county that has a procedure, as specified, that applies if an 
            impasse has been reached between the public agency and a 
            bargaining unit regarding negotiations to which the impasse 
            procedure applies.

           The Senate amendments  exempt a charter city, charter county, or 
          a charter city and county that has a procedure, as specified, 
          that applies if an impasse has been reached between the public 
          agency and a bargaining unit regarding negotiations to which the 
          impasse procedure applies.

           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 PERB and charges PERB with resolving disputes and enforcing 
            the statutory duties and rights of local public agency 
            employers and employee organizations.

           AS PASSED BY THE ASSEMBLY  , this bill was substantially similar 
          to the version approved by the Senate.

           FISCAL EFFECT  :  According to the Assembly Appropriations 

          1)Based on the staffing that PERB estimated was necessary to 
            administer the bill, the fiscal impact of administering the 
            provisions of this bill is approximately $200,000.

          2)There could be substantial state mandated reimbursement of 
            local costs.  The amount would depend on the number of 
            requests for fact finding.  PERB staff raised the possibility 
            of exceeding 100 cases annually in the first years of the 
            program.  Assuming an individual case is likely to cost around 
            $5,000, with the local agency footing half the bill, 
            reimbursable costs could exceed $2.5 million.  The Commission 
            on State Mandates has approved a test claim for any local 
            government subject to the jurisdiction of PERB that incurs 
            increased costs as a result of a mandate, meaning their costs 
            are eligible for reimbursement.  Increasing the waiting time 
            before fact finding can begin should reduce the costs 

           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 


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          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 
          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 fact finding prior to imposing 
          a last, best and final offer would simply add costs and be 
          unhelpful to both the employer and the employees."

           Analysis Prepared by  :    Karon Green / P.E., R. & S.S. / (916) 

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