On Sept. 2, Calif. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed S.B. 957 into law, thus placing employees of the Santa Cruz Metro (SCM) under the umbrella of the state’s Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) to foster improved relations between public employees and management.

Members of TD Local 23 pose on Labor Day 2022 with an award given to them by the Monterey Bay Central Labor Council for their efforts in getting S.B. 957 signed into law.

The law takes effect Jan. 1, 2023.

The bill was introduced in the state Senate by Sen. John Laird (D) on March 17. The bill’s advance happened because of the dedicated 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).

“This was a long uphill battle,” GC Sandoval said. “Louie has put in so much work and helped our local along the way in getting this done. He would sit with me for nine hours some days waiting for our bill to come up just to say he supports it too and taking the time to teach me how the process works.” 

The tenacity in seeing the bill through into law resulted in representatives of Local 23 receiving a “Rock Solid” award on Labor Day from the Monterey Bay Central Labor Council for their efforts.

The law requires that employers and employees of SCM adjudicate complaints of specified labor violations before PERB as an unfair practice instead of in 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.

“It removes the fight of who has more money,” Sandoval said. “PERB jurisdiction gives 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.”

Members of the Santa Cruz Board of Directors, SEIU 521 and the Monterey Bay Central Labor Council were thanked for their support in a speech by GC Sandoval at the council’s Labor Day event.

Among the SCM board members thanked were Jimmy Dutra, Shebreh Kalantari-Johnson, Kristen Brown, Rebecca Downing, Manu Koenig, Donna Meyers and Ari Parker.

A final word of gratitude from GC Sandoval went to state Sen. Laird, author of the bill.

“He believed in us from Day 1 and he stuck it out with us and he carried it all the way through,” he said.