Senator Leyva’s “Public Employer Accountability Act” Passes Senate

SB 931 Helps to Stop Illegal Interference by Public Employers in Worker Union Efforts

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

SACRAMENTO – To deter public sector employers from purposely discouraging union activity, the California State Senate today passed legislation authored by Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) to impose penalties on those employers for unlawfully attempting to dissuade employees from joining or participating in a union.

Sponsored by AFSCME - California, California Labor Federation, California Teamsters Public Affairs Council and SEIU California State Council, SB 931 creates a more effective and meaningful deterrent against these violations of the law by public employers by imposing a $1,000 penalty per violation—per affected employee—not to exceed $100,000.  The Legislature has previously established that public employers are prohibited from deterring union membership by public employees and applicants for public employment.  Public employee organizations are also already authorized to bring unfair labor practice (ULP) charges at the Public Employee Relations Board (PERB) for precisely this type of behavior. 

In violation of the law, though, some public employers have sent out anti-union communications repeatedly to existing bargaining units or workers attempting to collectively bargain.  Unfortunately—when an employee organization succeeds in petitioning PERB to grant an unfair labor practice charge—PERB can only issue a cease-and-desist order requiring the employer to post notice of the violation.  By that point, the damage is already clearly done.

“Having fought my entire professional life for working families, I know firsthand the many tactics that employers use to try to prevent their workers from unionizing and asserting their rights,” Senator Leyva said.  “Through this financial penalty in SB 931, public sector employers will hopefully think twice before deliberately discouraging union activity among their workers.  Public sector workers already have the legal right to unionize, so SB 931 is an important step forward to protect their ability to participate in a union without illegal interference by their employer.”

Now advancing to the Assembly, SB 931 is supported by Arcadia Police Officers Association, Burbank Police Officers' Association, California Association of Professional Scientists, California Coalition of School Safety Professionals, California Professional Firefighters, California State Association of Electrical Workers, California State Legislative Board / Smart - Transportation Division, California State Pipe Trades Council, California Teachers Association, Claremont Police Officers Association, Corona Police Officers Association, Culver City Police Officers' Association, Fullerton Police Officers' Association, Inglewood Police Officers Association, International Union of Elevator Constructors, Los Angeles School Police Officers Association, Newport Beach Police Association, Orange County Employees Association, Palos Verdes Police Officers Association, Peace Officers Research Association of California, Placer County Deputy Sheriffs' Association, Pomona Police Officer Association, Professional Engineers in California Government, Riverside Police Officers Association, Riverside Sheriffs' Association, Santa Ana Police Officers Political Action Committee, UAW Local 2865, UAW Local 4123, UAW Local 5810, United Public Employees, Upland Police Officers Association and Western States Council Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation.