Wednesday, August 26, 2015

What would PERB say?

You may have seen the news that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ultimately declined to rule on whether football players at Northwestern U were actually employees who - therefore - had the right to unionize. It didn't say yes or no; rather it dropped the case on technical grounds.

There is an editorial today in the LA Times that reviews the Northwestern case.* Excerpt:

...Faced with (a) rat's nest of legal and jurisdictional issues, the NLRB threw the Northwestern players' labor rights under the team bus...

The NLRB covers most of the private sector at the national level. Public employees in California are covered by the state's Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) under various statutes.** Much of the language of these statutes was copied from the federal law and then adapted to state purposes. PERB is not bound, however, to follow what the NLRB does when similar cases arise. In general, both the NLRB and PERB make rulings as cases come before them; they don't make rulings in the abstract. So here is an interesting question: If someone - presumably a player - brought the same issues to PERB that were raised in the Northwestern case from a UC campus, what would PERB do?

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