Local 1994 has filed an unfair labor practice charge against Montgomery County for failure to bargain in good faith.
Local 1994 received a letter on Feb. 5 that claimed a significant number of proposals the bargaining team presented to the County in November were “non-negotiable” items. Despite having received the proposals months ago, the county waited until Feb. 5, three days prior to entering into mandatory mediation over the contract, to claim the items non-negotiable.
“The essence of this charge is that the County has continued its pattern and practice of making eleventh hour declarations of non-negotiability to throw an additional monkey wrench into already difficult negotiations,” read a letter from Local 1994’s attorney to the County Labor Relations Administrator detailing the ULP charge.
The County has used this tactic repeatedly over the years, and when brought before the LRA, the County has been found guilty of bad faith bargaining. Despite their previous losses, the County no doubt continues to use the tactic as a way to stifle the Union’s bargaining team and to drain Local 1994’s limited resources. The tactic also creates a disadvantage during mediation and arbitration by creating bias against the Union.
Local 1994 is asking the LRA to issue a summary judgment immediately against the County. A summary judgment in favor of the Union would put all of the items the County is claiming as non-negotiable back on the table. The Union is also asking the LRA to order the County to pay the Union’s attorney fees.
The duty to bargain in good faith is an “obligation . . . to participate actively in the deliberations so as to indicate a present intention to find a basis for agreement . . .” The totality of conduct is the standard by which the quality of negotiations is tested. This means an employer is not judged solely on bargaining table behavior, but also by its words and actions away from the bargaining table.