New law leads to union negotiating rules for employee orientation

To make it easier for the union to reach new hires, the governor this summer signed AB 119, which requires California’s public employers to provide unions mandatory access to new employees at orientation. It also requires them to promptly provide contact information for new and existing unit employees within 30 days of hiring, including name, job title, department, work location, work, home and personal cell phone numbers, personal email address and home address.

The new law requires the college or university to negotiate the “structure, time and manner” of that access, and gave the administration and union 60 days to do it.

Some unions are asking for in-person (not just online) orientations within two weeks of the start of every term, given by HR personnel trained in the requirements of union-university agreements, with time for questions and answers.

Unions have often had difficulty trying to contact new hires in person — a key element in efforts to sign up new members in a post-fair share era. “We’re spread over a wide geographic area,” explains John Rundin, who teaches classics at UC Davis. “It’s hard to find people who might just teach one class, and who come to work with no idea that a union even exists on campus.”

AB 119 calls for more accurate and timely contact information. “Under the law, we’re required to represent all members of the bargaining unit,” Rundin says. “This is actually an opportunity to build a stronger union.”

—excerpts from an article by David Bacon, CFT Reporter