Providing Notice to the Unions
When your department or unit is contemplating changes to the working environment that will affect an employee or group of employees, you must provide information about certain kinds of changes to the exclusive representatives (unions) such as AFSCME. Of course, you will want to begin informing your employees about your plans as early as possible. When a proposal has reached the stage of being reasonably certain (but not cast in stone yet), it is time to send information to the unions involved. Notice is the term used to describe this information process. You'll hear it referred to as both a verb and a noun.
What is Notice?
The collective bargaining agreement (contract) and case law require the employer to provide reasonable notice of substantial changes in terms and conditions of employment, with the opportunity for the union or non-exclusively represented employee to comment before the change is implemented.
Why Provide Notice?
In some cases, whether or not to provide notice is outlined in the contract, such as that between the University and AFSCME. Case law issued by the Public Employee Relations Board (PERB) of the State of California also creates the obligation to notice. For classifications not represented by an exclusive representative, those covered by Personnel Policies for Staff (PPSM), PERB obligates the University to provide notice directly to the employee. The Employee and Labor Relations Office issues notices based on the nature of the obligation, and on the information provided by the department. The Notice of Intent to Change Conditions of Employment form has been developed to assist you in providing information about your proposed change.
When to Notice
One way to find out whether notice is needed is to look up the action you are proposing in the contract. For example, the AFSCME contract provides specific time constraints for issuing Work Rules, likewise for establishing an Alternate Work Schedule (e.g., 4-10 work schedules). Additionally, when a contract expires, the conditions requiring notice expand. The Status Quo Period: When a Contract Expires presents discussion of these circumstances. Lastly, you can contact the Labor Relations Consultant assigned to the specific bargaining unit.
Notice Time Frames
The lead-time for notice depends on the action you are considering, and the review period specified in the contract. You should build-in time for meetings and other discussions with the union(s). A frequent mistake is only allowing the minimum review period; say 45 calendar days, before the proposed action implementation date. If the union responds to the notice on the 29th day, you will most likely miss your target date. It is appropriate to have the notice period expire a week or two before your proposed implementation date.
When Notice Is Not Necessary
Some actions don't call for notice; two examples are a change of assignment within a classification and a change of supervisors. Employees don't have a right to always perform the same set of duties within their classification, nor do they have a right to the same supervisor forever.
Changes in the hours of a regular shift, such as from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to a 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. workday, do not necessarily require notice. However, you should remember that your employees must make adjustments to their personal schedules, so try to give at least 15-calendar days notice to the individual employees. Courtesy notice may be provided to the unions, but it is not required.
There are other times when notice may not be necessary, but it's best to check with a Labor Relations Consultant before you assume you don't have to provide it.