HR Management & Compliance

California Public-Sector Employers Facing Challenging New Laws

Public-sector employers in California are facing an array of challenges in 2012 — declining revenues, out-of-control costs, fading reserves, and “a slew of bills further hobbling public agencies’ ability to control costs,” according to Jonathan Holtzman, a partner with Renne Sloan Holtzman Sakai LLP in San Francisco. Here’s a look at some new laws affecting California public employers:

  • AB 646: This law mandates fact-finding under the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act, a requirement Holtzman says will make it harder for strapped public agencies to address their fiscal problems.
  • AB 506: This law requires local public entities to either engage in mediation with all interested parties or declare a fiscal emergency before filing for bankruptcy. Holtzman points out that mediation under AB 506 will add time and expense to the bankruptcy process.
  • SB 857: This law abolishes the Public Employee Relations Board’s authority to award damages for an unlawful strike. Holtzman says this law removes a deterrent to public-employee strikes since courts generally also lack the power to award damages for an illegal strike.
  • SB 922: This law authorizes public agencies to require project labor agreements (PLAs) for publicly funded construction and forbidding the use of state funding for public construction in jurisdictions that ban PLAs.

All four of these laws were signed into law in October 2011, so California employers are still grappling with their effects. Holtzman wrote on them more extensively in the November 21, 2011, California Employment Law Letter. He will present a webinar on the subject — California Public-Sector Employment Law Update: Game-Changing Compliance Solutions for 2012 — from 10:30 a.m. to noon Pacific time on February 1.