Unfair Labor Practice Charge Filed Against Water District

Local 21 filed an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge October 29 against the Santa Clara Valley Water District for interfering with the Union’s right to represent employees, and for interfering with employees’ exercise of protected rights in violation of the Meyers-Milias-Brown-Act.  An Unfair Labor Practice complaint alleges that the District violated national or state labor laws.  The California Public Employment Relations Board will investigate the charges.

The complaint states that District Labor Relations Manager Michael Baratz withdrew a verbal agreement with Local 21 in June.  This was done in retaliation for a letter the Union sent to District Directors on behalf of our Engineers Society (ES) and Professional Management Association (PMA) chapters.  Baratz initially agreed to extend a deadline for Local 21 to file the next step of a grievance over the District's misinterpretation of the new state pension reform implementation.  Baratz consented to give Local 21 more time to seek a legal opinion; the extra time was also necessary since PMA leaders were on summer vacations.

Local 21 and ES and PMA Leaders had been working on a letter to District Directors (as some Directors had requested) regarding our stance on the state pension changes.  Just as Local 21 staffer Stanley Young submitted a written request confirming the grievance extension with Baratz, Local 21 staffers Mike Seville and Michelle Hatfield emailed Directors our letter.  Once Baratz received word about the letter, he overreacted in a very negative way.  Baratz sent an email to Local 21, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Beau Goldie, Chief Administrative Officer Jesus Nava, Human Resources Director Grant Lee, and ES and PMA Officers.  The email stated that he, “ ... was rescinding the grievance extension based on the fact that the Union communicated with the Board.”  Local 21 staffer Stanley Young then called Baratz on his cell phone to attempt to explain what had transpired.  Baratz cursed at Young on the phone and then hung up.  This is not the way we expected to be treated by Management, and we hope the Board of Directors and CEO do not accept this type of behavior from any of their employees.