After the California Military Department abruptly removed firearms and law enforcement duties from its Fire Fighter/Security Officers (FF/SOs) at Camp Roberts Military Installation, CSLEA filed an Unfair Labor Practice Charge with the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB).
FF/SOs are sworn peace officers who perform both fire suppression and security functions at Camp Roberts, and have historically been issued firearms, consistent with Article 13.1 of the Unit 7 Contract, while performing law enforcement functions.
Given this long and clear history of FF/SOs performing law enforcement duties with firearms, CSLEA was shocked to learn that on April 16, 2013, Camp Roberts management took all firearms from the FF/SOs and informed them that all law enforcement duties were immediately suspended.
CSLEA immediately contacted the Military Department to inquire why the firearms and duties were taken from FF/SOs and why CSLEA was not provided proper prior notice of the changes. During a June 5, 2013 meeting, CSLEA informed the Military Department that according to the Dills Act, Government Code Section 3517, the Military Department was obligated to meet and confer in good faith with CSLEA prior to arriving at a determination of policy or course of action regarding wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment.
CSLEA emphasized that according to the Dills Act, CSLEA should have had the opportunity to meet and confer in good faith with the Department prior to any change occurring. Thus, CSLEA informed the Department, CSLEA would give the Department a week to decide whether the Department would restore the status quo – reassign firearms and Law Enforcement duties to the FF/SOs.
The Military Department never restored the status quo. As a result, CSLEA filed an Unfair Labor Practice Charge alleging the Military Department to be in clear violation of the Dills Act because it failed to meet and confer in good faith with CSLEA prior to unilaterally removing the weapons from FF/SOs and suspending their law enforcement duties.
In response to the Unfair Labor Practice Charge, on May 1, 2014, PERB issued a Complaint alleging the Military Department to be in violation of Government Code sections 3519(a), 3519(b), and 3519(c) of the Dills Act. PERB specified that the Military Department removed firearms and law enforcement duties from FF/SOs without prior notice to CSLEA and without affording CSLEA the opportunity to meet and confer and negotiate the decision to implement the changes in policy and/or the effects of such policy changes. This violated the Department’s obligation to meet and confer in good faith, interfered with the rights of FF/SOs to be represented by CSLEA, and CSLEA’s ability to represent its bargaining unit employees.
The Military Department is now ordered to answer to these allegations. PERB has scheduled an Informal Conference in June 2014 to discuss settlement or schedule a formal hearing.