Our practice includes a wide variety of subjects involving traditional labor law, public sector retiree benefits, and employer-employee relations, including the subjects noted here.
Contract Negotiations and Enforcement, Grievances and Arbitrations
All of our lawyers assist Unions in contract negotiations. We help by drafting or analyzing contract proposals, helping with strategy and research, and sometimes by attending the bargaining itself. In some instances, we serve as negotiators, or represent the union in mediation or “fact-finding” hearings.
Besides the negotiations of agreements and side letters, we analyze potential or actual grievances, draft grievance language, assist in Union responses to employer statements, evaluate cases for arbitration, and present and brief cases in arbitration. Our firm has handled scores of arbitrations that resulted in favorable decisions. See, e.g., AFT Local 2121 and San Francisco Community College District, 95 LA 25 (1990). [Union’s agency fee chargeable determinations satisfy legal requirements.]; Marin Community College District and UPM, AFT Local 1610 (David Concepcion 1995) [college wrongfully denied grievant a voluntary transfer. (CPER No. 114, Oct. 1996, p.72]; Greater Santa Cruz Federation of Teachers, AFT Loc 2030 and Santa Cruz City Schools (Edgar Jones 2001) [CPER No. 151, Dec. 2001, p. 88;District’s involuntary transfer of 3 math teachers was barred by agreement.]; Foothill-DeAnza Faculty Assn. and Foothill-DeAnza Community College District (Ken Silbert 2005) [CPER No. 172, De.c. 2005, p. 88; denial of merit pay increase was arbitrary and capricious]
Unfair Labor Practices
We identify and analyze potential unfair labor practices, draft unfair labor practice charges, respond to employer opposition or questions raised by the labor board (typically the PERB or NLRB), prepare amendments, try PERB cases or appear at NLRB hearings, assess decisions, submit legal briefs, and pursue appeals and related actions. While the California Public Employment Relations Board is modeled after the NLRB, there are several significant differences, and one of those is that the agency
does not actually present ULP cases for trial - instead, the charging party Union is required to present the case. This is an area where we have considerable experience.
When a Union wants to organize an employer that is not unionized, or expand an existing bargaining unit, our firm is experienced. Whether the matter is before the PERB, NLRB or another entity, we have handled or assisted in many of these cases. See, e.g., Santa Clarita Community College District (Part-Time Faculty United, AFT) PERB Dec. No. 1506, 27 PERC 35 (2003) [Reversing ALJ, PERB holds prima facie case District illegally recognized rival union to avoid organizing by AFT];Victor
Valley Community College District (Part-Time Faculty United, AFT) PERB Dec. No. 1543, 27 PERC 111 (2003) [employer unlawfully recognized rival union during organizing campaign].
Petitions for Writs of Mandate and Civil Litigation
Union lawyers are often required to pursue petitions for writs of “ordinary mandate” or “administrative mandate.” These writs are available to enforce rights available under California law. Ordinary mandate is a special legal proceeding which, among other things, seeks to enforce legal obligations of governmental entities. Before collective bargaining, the writ of mandate was an essential means of assuring that public employers fulfilled their legal duties. See, for instance, these ordinary mandate cases: Anderson v. San Mateo Community College District, 187 Cal.App.3d 441 (1978); Fresno Unified Retirees Association v. Fresno Unified School District (Fresno County Superior Court Case No. 06 CE CG 03088), or United Professors of Marin v. Marin Community College District, Marin County Superior Court No. 95857 [lawsuit to enforce the 50% law, affecting college faculty salaries].
The Anderson case successfully compelled a community college district to follow its evaluation policies, ordering rescission of an unlawful denial of a probationary contract to a faculty member. The Fresno case enforced promised retiree health benefits for a class of more than 3,000 school district retirees.
Administrative mandate results when there is a challenge to an administrative decision. See, e.g., Cervisi v. California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board 208 Cal.App.3d 635, 256 Cal. Rptr. 142 (1989) [upholding rights of part-time, temporary educational employees to receive unemployment compensation].
Besides writs of mandate, our practice has pursued or defended in civil litigation in the State and federal courts.
Civil Appeals and Writs
The firm and/or its lawyers have served as appellate counsel in more than 40 civil appeals and civil writs. See, e.g., DVC Faculty Senate v. Diablo Valley College, 148 Cal.App.4th 1023 (2007) [representing DVC Senate in dispute over employer reorganization]; CRTA Protect et al. v. West Contra Costa Unified School District, et al. [Contra Costa Superior Court No. C 93-04636]; Contra Costa Colleges Retirees Association v. Contra Costa Community College District [ Contra Costa Superior Court No. 302815]; Stiglich v. Merit Board of Contra Costa County and International Association of Firefighters Local 1230, [defending Firefighters’ Union]; Pacific Legal Foundation v. Brown, 29 Cal.3d 168 (1981) [upholding constitutionality of State employees collective bargaining law].
Protecting Public Employees from the Effects of Illegal Accreditation Actions
When actions by a national accreditor threatened to close a thriving California community college – City College of San Francisco – which serves 80,000 students, and employs 1,500 academic employees, our firm instituted litigation to enjoin the closure. We worked with other interested parties, and presented numerous allegations to a federal agency, which concluded that the accreditor was violating federal law.
Public Employees Constitutional and Statutory Rights
The firm’s lawyers have written extensively regarding the constitutional and statutory rights of public employees, including, for example, freedom of speech. See, e.g., in Articles, “Free Speech Zones” and “Don’t Push My [Political] Buttons.” The firm has also filed amicus briefs in cases involving public employee constitutional rights. See, e.g., Retired Employees Association of Orange County (REAOC) v. County of Orange, 52 Cal. 4 1171, 266 P. 3d 387, 2011 th WL 5829598 (2011); Butt v. State of California , 4 Cal. 4th 668 (1992) [obligation of state to supply funds to operate insolvent public school].
Rarely do employees require legal representation in unemployment insurance benefit disputes. However, it can happen. Our firm has handled many such cases, including the landmark case of Cervisi v. CUIAB, 208 Cal.App.3d 635, 256 Cal. Rptr. 142 (1989) . Cervisi established the right of part-time, temporary community college faculty to receive unemployment compensation after their assignments end, because future assignments are not assured - they are contingent on funding, class size requirements, bumping, and district needs.
Retiree Health Benefits
The firm has represented more than a dozen retiree associations or groups in court litigation in the state courts of California, and has served as amicus in state and federal cases aimed at affirming the vested rights of public employees to earned, lifetime, retiree health benefits. These cases usually begin with an inquiry as to whether employees have contractually vested rights, and whether those rights have been impaired by employer-instigated changes. Sometimes these cases are resolved in
negotiations, and other times in litigation.
Internal Union Operations
The firm provides advice and assistance in internal union matters, and has successfully defended unions in duty of fair representation cases before the California PERB, the NLRB and in the courts.
Administrative Agencies and Hearings
The firm has successfully handled a wide range of appeals to administrative agencies, including dismissals and suspensions of public employees under various statutes and policies, which were heard either by arbitrators or administrative law judges. Similarly, we have handled many public sector layoff cases..
Amicus Curiae Briefs
The firm periodically files amicus curiae briefs in cases affecting important rights of members of unions and unions we represent. See, e.g., Stryker v. Antelope Valley Community College District, 100 Cal.App.4th 324 (2002)[academic employees automatic reclassification rights]; Retired Employees Association of Orange County v. County of Orange, 52 Cal.4th 1171 (2011) [Rights of retirees to implied contract conveying vested rights], San Leandro Teachers Assn. v. Governing Board of the San Leandro USD, 46 Cal.4th 822 (2009) [rights of teachers and unions to place political advocacy materials in faculty boxes and on tables]; and, Butt v. State of California (1992) 4 Cal. 4th 668 [State’s obligation to fund school districts].
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All information and material in this website is purely for informational purposes. it should not be considered legal advice for your particular situation or on any particular topic. All situations are different. While the information contained on this site is believed to be accurate, over time the law evolves based on new laws or regulations, changes in statutes or decisions in cases. Therefore you should not rely on information contained in this website without seeking advice from a licensed legal professional specific to your circumstances.
This website is not intended to, nor does the act of visiting it, create an attorney-client relationship between you and the Law Offices of Robert J. Bezemek, A Professional Corporation In addition, we cannot represent as attorneys, anyone or any Union, until we determine that there are no conflicts of interest between yourself and any of our existing clients. We ask you not to send us any information, (other than as requested on the "Contact Us" page,) about any matter that may involve you until you receive a written statement from us requesting information.