A bill under consideration in the California Legislature would place employees of the Santa Cruz Metro under the umbrella of the state’s Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) to foster improved relations between public employees and management.
S.B. 957 was introduced in the state Senate by state Sen. John Laird (D) on March 17. The bill’s advance has happened in part thanks to the work of members of SMART-TD Local 23 in Santa Cruz, California State Legislative Board Director Louie Costa and General Chairperson James Sandoval (GC-SCM).
“The bill will protect Santa Cruz Metro workers from unfair labor practices moving forward,” Sandoval said. “It’s been a two-year project, and we still got work to do. This is absolutely huge.”
S.B. 957 would require employers and employees of the district to adjudicate complaints of specified labor violations before PERB as an unfair practice instead of in the superior court. By requiring the district to adjudicate claims before PERB, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program that would serve to harmonize relations between SCM management and labor.
“PERB jurisdiction will give us free oversight to make sure Metro bargains with our union in good faith during negotiations and gives us recourse in the event Metro commits unfair labor practices,” Sandoval said.
Members of the Santa Cruz Board of Directors received the appreciation of TD Local 23 and SEIU Local 521, which also represents some Santa Cruz Metro employees, for their support in getting the bill moved into consideration.
Among the supporters thanked were Kristen Petersen, Shebreh Kalantari-Johnson, Jimmy Dutra, Ari Parker, Manu Koenig, Rebecca Downing, Donna Meyers, Alta Northcutt and Laird.
“After a period of discord under the prior CEO, the support from the board has helped this bill advance along,” Sandoval said. “We’re going to do our best to make sure it gets fair consideration by state lawmakers.”
The bill is under review by the Senate’s Labor, Public Employment and Retirement Committee and is scheduled to be heard by the committee on April 18 at 3:00 p.m. The Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hear the bill on April 26 at 1:30 p.m.