Governor Brown signed SB 866 into law after Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, 585 U. S. ____ (2018) was released by the Supreme Court on June 27, 2018.  SB 866 is an effort to give something back to the unions given that they lost agency fees when the Court in Janus declared those violative of the First Amendment and overturned Abood v. Detroit Bd. of Ed., 431 U. S. 209 (1977).  SB 866 applies to employers covered by PERB, including cities, special districts, and counties.

What’s new?

  1. Mandatory for employers to allow union dues to be paid by payroll deduction;
  2. Employees must go through the union to request to start (or stop) payroll deductions for union dues – and cannot bring those requests to the public agency;
  3. Unions advise the agency as to the amount of dues deduction and employer must accept that information from the union;
  4. Unions are not required to show proof of authorization to the public agency unless there is a dispute about whether the authorization exists or what it allows;
  5. Unions are required to indemnify the employer from claims against them regarding dues deductions.

SB 866 gives unions better control over union dues, which are different than agency fees.  That said, the result is something of an outlier because most payroll deductions require some direct employee consent, and employers are very careful to obtain solid documentation of the consent.  SB 866 takes that away from employers and puts it in the hands of the union – all they need to do is tell the employer who is a member and the deductions start – employers cannot ask for proof and just go on the word of the union (employers are indemnified, however).

One small change to the rules for new employee orientations:  The location, date and time of a new employee orientation can only be shared with the union or third parties that have a business interest in that information on account of their participation in the orientation (a union, or a benefit provider for example).

Other changes having to do with how employers communicate with employees over their right to join or form unions:  If an employer is going to distribute a communication about employee rights to form, join or participate to applicants or existing employees, it must provide notice and an opportunity to meet and confer over the contents of the communication to a recognized employee organization.  Further, if there is no agreement and the employer’s communication is distributed, the employer must also distribute a communication that the union may choose to provide.

The bill became effective immediately after it was signed into law on June 27, 2018.