CSBLR (Connecticut State
Board of Labor Relations)
A. PROHIBITED PRACTICE PROCEDURES - MERA, SERA
These proceedings are initiated by the filing of a
complaint with the Labor Board alleging that an employer or a union has engaged
in conduct prohibited by the MERA, SERA or TNA. Under those Acts, a
complaint may be filed by an employee, a group of employees, a union, or an
employer. The procedure for processing complaints pursuant to the SLRA is
different and is described below in Section VI(B).
After a complaint is filed, the Agent of the Labor Board
assigns the complaint to an Assistant Agent for investigation. The
investigation commences with an informal conference involving both the
complainant and the respondent. The conference is designed to ascertain
whether the complaint has merit and whether an informal mediation of the
complaint is possible. If a settlement is reached, it is reduced to
writing. If a mediated complaint has merit and is not settled, it is
scheduled to be heard by the Labor Board. When a complaint lacks merit, however,
the Agent, upon the advice of the Assistant Agent, will file a report
recommending a dismissal of the complaint. The submission of a
recommendation for dismissal does not foreclose the complainant from presenting
the case before the Labor Board. The regulations for each of the public
sector statutes administered by the Labor Board allow a complaining party to
file objections within 14 days of receipt of the recommendation for dismissal.
The hearings before the Labor Board are formal and provide
the opportunity for the parties to introduce documentary and testimonial
evidence, cross-examine witnesses and file briefs. In making its findings,
however, the Labor Board is not bound by the technical rules of evidence.
B. UNFAIR LABOR PRACTICE PROCEDURES - SLRA
These proceedings are initiated by the filing of a charge
with the Labor Board alleging that any person has engaged in conduct prohibited
by the SLRA. The charge may be filed by "any person, his representative or
labor organization". After the charge is filed, the Agent of the
Labor Board assigns it to an Assistant Agent for investigation. If, after
the investigation, the Agent determines that no violation of the Act has
occurred, he will file a report with the Board recommending that no complaint
issue on the charge. The aggrieved party then has 14 days to request
review of the Agent's recommendation. If the Agent finds reasonable
grounds for any charge, he will issue a complaint stating the charges and
containing a notice of hearing before the Board.
C. REPRESENTATION PROCEDURES
1. Time for Filing Petitions
The process to decide whether employees wish to be
represented by a labor organization is initiated by the filing of a petition
with the Labor Board under the MERA, SERA or SLRA. The Labor Board does
not have jurisdiction over the representation process under the TNA.
Under any of the statutes, a petition is usually timely filed if the employees
are unrepresented. If the employees are already represented by a labor
organization, a petition under MERA is timely if filed between 180 and 150 days
prior to expiration of a collective bargaining agreement (known as the window
period) or at other times if compelling reasons are shown. Under SERA, the
window period is August 1 through August 31 in the year preceding the expiration
of a collective bargaining agreement.
2. General Procedure
Appropriately filed petitions are referred to the Board's
Agent who attempts to procure a consent election agreement or a recognition
agreement. If no agreement is reached, the Agent may do any of the
following: (a) order an election; (b) recommend dismissal of the
petition; or (c) refer the petition to the Board with no election or
recommendation. The Agent reports any action to Board.
If the Agent does (a) or (b), the parties have 14 days
from the issuance of the order to file objections. If the
Agent refers the petition to the Board with no recommendation the Board
must hold hearing.
If no objections are filed, the Board must certify the
results of the election or dismiss the petition. If objections are filed,
the Board shall (a) confirm the Agent's order of election and certify the
election results; (b) confirm the Agent's recommendation for dismissal;
(c) order further investigation; or (d) provide for an appropriate
hearing upon due notice.
3. Modification/Clarification Petitions
Modification petitions seek to modify an existing
bargaining unit or clarify that a position belongs in an existing bargaining
unit. Pursuant to §7-471(4) of the MERA and §5-275(c) of the SERA, these
petitions can now only be filed by a union or an employer, but not during the
"term" of any collective bargaining agreement. However, a Union may file a
modification or clarification petition at any time if the position is
unrepresented or if a new position is created.
4. Objections To The Election Process
Once an election has been held, it is presumptively valid
unless there is a valid protest or there is a clear showing that the result
failed to reflect the true wishes of the voters. Election misconduct must
be serious and substantial in order to disrupt the election process. The
objecting party bears the burden of proving that some event or circumstance was
so disruptive as to prevent employees from making a free choice, or
significantly altered the election results. If offensive conduct occurred
during the course of an election campaign, it has been deemed waived by the
Board if not timely objected to prior to the election itself. The Board
will, however, set aside elections for flagrant violation of the rules. A
certain amount of "mudslinging" is allowed during an election campaign.
The rhetoric, however, is closely scrutinized if an opponent is denied an
opportunity to rebut an allegation.
D. MISCELLANEOUS PROCEDURES
1. Declaratory Rulings and Scope of
Section 4-176(a) of the Uniform Administrative Procedure
Act provides that "any person may petition an agency . . . for a declaratory
ruling as to the validity of any regulation, or the applicability to specified
circumstances of a provision of the general statutes, a regulation, or a final
decision on a matter within the jurisdiction of the agency". The Board has
adopted regulations detailing the procedure for filing a declaratory ruling
petition under the MERA, SERA or TNA. The Labor Board can also make scope
of bargaining determinations upon the request of an employer, employee
organization or arbitrator, if during the course of negotiations, binding
arbitration, or grievance arbitration, one party seeks to negotiate a subject
which the other party contends is not a mandatory subject of bargaining.
The regulations for each statute directs the Board "to make every effort to
expedite the proceeding".
2. Interim Relief
Under the MERA, the Labor Board may also issue an order of
interim relief in appropriate circumstances. The standards for granting
interim relief are similar to the standards typically used by the courts in
deciding whether to issue a temporary injunction, and are as follows:
(1) the harm to the complainant if an interim order is not issued, including
whether irreparable injury, loss, or damage will result; (2) the harm to
the respondent if an interim order is issued; (3) the probability of
success on the merits; and (4) the interests of the public.