Employee & Labor Relations assists supervisors, managers and department heads with consultation on performance management, best practices in responding to performance concerns, attendance problems, misconduct issues or workplace conflicts. This list is some of the more common questions we get:
What is HEERA?
California’s Higher Education Employee Employer Relations Act (HEERA)(link is external) is the law passed by the California State Legislature that governs labor relations between public institutions of higher education and their employees. HEERA gives UC employees the right to decide whether or not they want to unionize and have collective bargaining as the sole means of determining their wages, hours and working conditions.
What is PERB?
The State of California’s Public Employment Relations Board (PERB)(link is external) is the administrative agency charged with implementing and overseeing the provisions of HEERA(link is external). PERB makes determinations about which units are appropriate for collective bargaining; conducts elections to determine whether employees in a given unit want to be unionized and engage in collective bargaining; and investigates, holds hearings, and makes decisions on whether or not unfair labor practices have been committed.
What is a typical collective bargaining negotiation process?
After a union is elected to represent a collective bargaining unit, the University and the union engage in a negotiation process to reach an agreement (or contract) on the terms and conditions of employment for represented members of the unit. Every agreement has a duration period, meaning that the agreement expires after a specific date and the parties have to negotiate a new agreement. This next negotiation process is called “successor” bargaining because the parties are negotiating for an agreement that will succeed the current one. In some cases, agreement includes a provision called “re-openers.” This means that the parties have agreed that they will re-negotiate only certain portions, or Articles, even though the agreement does not expire until a future date.
Where can I get more information on Collective Bargaining?
You can find out more about the processes for elections, decertifications and the history of collective bargaining in the FAQs on the UCOP Labor Relations Web site.
What factors are consider in determining the need for a layoff or reduction in time?
Layoffs and/or reductions in time for employees in career positions are implemented when there is a lack of funds or lack of work, including lack of work due to reorganization.
Is reduction in time considered a layoff?
Yes. If a career employee’s time is involuntarily reduced, it is considered a layoff, and the employee is entitled to layoff rights. The Lab has different policies for each situation; reduction in force and reduction in time. For more information contact your Sr. Human Resources Division Partner.
Is severance provided to employees affected by layoff?
Refer to the Lab’s Reduction in Force Policy or the applicable collective bargaining agreements (link is external) to find out whether severance pay is available. Contact Employee & Labor Relations at firstname.lastname@example.org, if you have additional questions.
Am I a represented or non-represented employee? (union or non-union)
Some of the staff positions at the University of California, based on job title classification, are organized into collective bargaining units that are exclusively represented by a union or employee organization. California’s Higher Education Employer-Employee Relations Act (HEERA) gives UC employees the right to decide whether or not they want to unionize and have collective bargaining as the sole means of determining their wages, hours and other terms and conditions of employment. There are seven collective bargaining units (CBUs) at the Lab. More information about HEERA and the collective bargaining process is available on the Office of the President’s collective bargaining web pages and at the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) web site. PERB is the state agency responsible for oversight of HEERA and the collective bargaining process between the University and employee organizations/unions representing our employees.
When you were hired, your hiring supervisor or the employment recruiter should have informed you if your position is part of a collective bargaining unit and represented by a union. If you are uncertain, please ask your supervisor or Sr. HR Division Partner.
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In certain serious circumstances, an employee may be placed on an investigatory leave to allow the University time to review or investigate the allegations without the employee in the workplace. The purpose of the leave is to allow the University time to investigate the allegations or secure the worksite during an investigation. Potential allegations of misconduct warranting an investigatory leave include but are not limited to dishonesty, theft or misappropriation of University property, fighting on the job, insubordination, acts endangering others, or other conduct which warrants removing the employee from the work site. In general, employees must be informed in writing of the reason and the expected duration of the leave. If you have questions about investigatory leave, please contact Employee & Labor Relations.
What is a collective bargaining unit or CBU?
Under the California Higher Education Employer-Employee Relations Act (HEERA), (link is external)a collective bargaining unit is a group of job positions/job titles with a sufficient “community of interest” that a union can reasonably represent the employees in the unit – particularly the negotiation of the employees’ terms and conditions of employment.
HEERA provides that, with some exceptions, collective bargaining units at the University are organized into systemwide units. This means that all employees in a specific collective bargaining unit, across all the UC campuses, are considered to be one unit. Other units (Skilled Crafts units for example) are considered a local, single campus unit.
What does 'status quo' mean for collective bargaining units?
Generally, when a collective bargaining agreement expires and no new agreement has been reached, the University is required to maintain the status quo for terms and conditions of employment affecting represented employees in that unit. “Status quo” is a legal term for the University’s obligation to generally maintain the same wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment that existed prior to the agreement’s expiration. Thus, once an agreement has expired, the University usually cannot make changes to terms and conditions without giving notice to the employee’s union and potentially negotiating the change. Management actions that may require a notice/negotiation obligation include: reclassifications, transfers, involuntary changes in employee’s hours, scheduling overtime, vacation, taking sick leave, and other work rule changes.
Notably, not everything related to wages, hours, and terms and conditions of employment is subject to bargaining or to “status quo.” However, departments planning to make changes affecting employees in bargaining units now in status quo should contact the appropriate Employee and Labor Relations Specialist to review plans and coordinate any required notices prior to implementing any such changes.
What is a collective bargaining agreement or union contract or memorandum of understanding?
Collective bargaining agreement, union contract and memorandum of understanding (MOU) are all terms that refer to a written mutually binding agreement that results from direct negotiations between the University and the exclusive representative for a group of employees. The agreement, contract or MOU sets wages, hours and other terms and conditions of employment for an agreed upon period of time.
What are 'initial proposals' in the collective bargaining process?
The exclusive representative for a group of employees (union) and the University individually develop and present initial proposals to each side prior to the start of collective bargaining negotiations. The initial proposals are generally changes or new contract provisions that each side would like to achieve through negotiations.
What is the 'Sunshine Period' in the collective bargaining process?
After the University and exclusive representative for a group of employees (union) submit notices of intent to bargain and exchange initial proposals, the initial proposals are made available for public viewing at a stated time and place prior to the start of negotiations. This allows the general public an opportunity to review and comment on initial proposals.
What is impasse?
If the University and the exclusive representative for a group of employees (union) are unable to reach an agreement through collective bargaining, negotiations may be declared at an impasse. This means that neither side is willing to compromise further on any of the outstanding issues. The State of California’s Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) (link is external) verifies whether or not the parties are at impasse and, if so, the State Mediation and Conciliation Services appoints an independent person to mediate between the parties. If the mediator is unable to persuade the parties to compromise, then a fact-finding panel is created. Each party appoints one person to serve on the panel and PERB provides a list of independent arbitrators from which the parties mutually select one to chair the panel. This panel hears presentations from each side and then issues a fact-finding report. However, the report is only advisory.
If the parties are still unable to agree after the completion of fact-finding and the report is issued, the University is permitted to impose or unilaterally implement terms and conditions of employment, as long as such terms were “reasonably contemplated’ with the University’s last, best and final offer.
What is a Tentative Agreement or 'T.A' in contract negotiations?
If an agreement is reached in collective bargaining negotiations between the University and the exclusive representative for a group of employees (union), it is called a Tentative Agreement or T.A. because it is not put into effect until each side has ratified (or voted to approve) it. The Regents of the University of California ratify for the University and union members (generally voting rights are only extended to dues paying members of the union) vote to ratify for the union. The Lab’s process is a little more complicated in that DOE will also have either provided pre-approval for economic parameters or must be notified of new agreements within previously anticipated parameters.
What is an Unfair Labor Practice Charge or ULP?
An Unfair Labor Practice charge or ULP is a charge filed with the California Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) that either the University or the exclusive bargaining agent (union) has violated the Higher Education Employer-Employee Relations Act (HEERA).
What is a strike?
A work stoppage by a group of employees intended to express a grievance, enforce a demand for higher wages or for other changes in conditions of employment, obtain recognition, or resolve a dispute with management.
If my union calls for a strike, am I obligated to strike?
No employee is ever obligated to strike. Unions are legally prohibited from threatening or coercing members in other ways to keep them from coming to work. Some unions can fine dues-paying members (but not non-members) for working during a strike. A union member who does not want to strike may contact her/his union directly to inquire about possible fines. UC will not deduct fines from an employee’s paycheck.
If I join a strike, will I lose pay or benefits?
You will not be paid if you fail to report for work as scheduled. In additions, your benefits may be affected depending on the percentage of time worked in a particular pay period. Please refer to the terms of the applicable collective bargaining agreement.
Will I lose pay if I'm simply absent from work during a strike?
If an employee does not report to work as assigned during a strike, UC will presume — absent prior authorization or medical certification — that her/his work absence during a strike period is strike related. Employees who are absent from work without authorization during a strike will not be paid for the absence. As is always the case, authorization for an absence from work (e.g., vacation leave or compensatory time) may or may not be granted, depending on operational necessity and without regard to the employee’s reason for the requested leave.
When is an employee on probation?
Generally, a career employee is in a probationary status for the first six months of employment at UC. Once an employee completes probation, s/he is a regular career status employee. A career employee will not serve another probationary period unless s/he is re-hired after a break in service from University employment.
How is an employee's probationary period calculated?
In general, the probationary period ends six months from the starting date of employment. The probationary period is based on actual days of work, so any holidays, sick, vacation or unpaid absences taken during the probationary period do not count towards the probationary period.
What happens when an employee completes probation?
At the conclusion of the probationary period, the employee should receive written notification of the successful completion of the probationary period. The original letter should be filed in the employee’s departmental personnel file. Typically, new employees should also receive a written performance review at the mid-point and conclusion of the probationary period.