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Human Resources Department

Engineers and Scientists of California (ESC)

2019 - 2023 ESCMemorandum of Understanding:   Article 11: Union Rights and Security

Engineers & Scientists of California

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11.1 Fair and Equal Representation

It is recognized that ESC must provide fair and equal representation to all employees in all represented classes.

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11.2 Authorization for Union-Sponsored Payroll Deductions

11.2.1 Certification of Authorization

Pursuant to current law, all employees in any bargaining unit represented by the Union may join the Union and pay dues, initiation fees and general assessments. Employees represented by the Union may also make voluntary LEAP contributions. Employees who have joined the Union may enroll in other membership benefit program(s) sponsored by the Union. These dues, initiation fees, general assessments, contributions and payments for membership benefit programs shall be referred to as “payroll deductions” and are determined by the Union.

  1. The Employer shall honor employees’ authorizations for payroll deductions when certified in writing to the County by the Union. The Union shall maintain records of employees’ written authorizations and will provide the County with the names of employees who have given their written consent to such payroll deductions and the amounts to be deducted.
  2. The Union shall not be required to provide copies of employees’ written authorizations to the Employer unless a dispute arises regarding the existence of the authorization or its terms.

11.2.2 Payroll Deductions/Authorizations

  1. The County agrees to deduct the periodic payroll deductions from the paycheck of each employee who the Union certifies as authorizing the deduction. All sums deducted by the County will be remitted to the Union in an expedient manner at intervals requested by the union, together with an electronic list in sortable and searchable format of the names of each employee for whom a deduction was made.
  2. Payroll deductions will commence in the first full pay period after the County receives written certification of the authorization.
  3. Requests to revoke, cancel or change prior dues or payroll deduction authorization(s) will be directed to the Union. Should the County receive such a request, they will direct the employee to contact a designated representative of their Union, and shall not accept the request directly from the employee. The County shall rely on the Union’s written certifications regarding employee requests to change deductions.
  4. Notice of changes to the amounts or frequency of deductions previously certified by the Union to the County must be received by the County at least thirty (30) calendar days prior to the change becoming effective. The County will implement the change in the first full pay period following the effective date after the notice period.
  5. The Union will indemnify the County as set forth in California Government Code section 1157.12, which states:

    Public employers other than the state that provide for the administration of payroll deductions authorized by employees for employee organizations as set forth in Sections 1152 and 1157.3 or pursuant to other public employee labor relations statues, shall:
    1. Rely on a certification from any employee organization requesting a deduction or reduction that they have and will maintain an authorization, signed by the individual from whose salary or wages the deduction or reduction is to be made. An employee organization that certifies that it has and will maintain individual employee authorizations shall not be required to provide a copy of an individual authorization to the public employer unless a dispute arises about the existence or terms of the authorization. The employee organization shall indemnify the public employer for any claims made by the employee for deductions made in reliance on that certification.
    2. Direct employee requests to cancel or change deductions for employee organizations to the employee organization, rather than to the public employer. The public employer shall rely on information provided by the employee organization regarding whether deductions for an employee organization were properly canceled or changed, and the employee organization shall indemnify the public employer for any claims made by the employee for deductions made in reliance on that information. Deductions may be revoked only pursuant to the terms of the employee’s written authorization.

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11.3 Notice of New Employees and Ongoing Member Represented Employee Information

  1. Notice of New and Ongoing Represented Employees Information: On a bi-weekly basis, the County shall provide to a person designated by the Union, a report containing the following information for all represented employees: 
    • full name
    • home address
    • work, home and cellular telephone numbers
    • work email addresses and personal email addresses on file with employer
    • date of hire
    • union membership status
    • job code,
    • job classification
    • department and section code
    • work site address
    • FTEs
    • pay rate, scale and step
    • Employee ID #  

    The County will also provide, on a bi-weekly basis, a report identifying which employees are new employees or transfers who are newly represented by the ESC Bargaining Unit.
  2. Union stewards shall be authorized to receive the names and addresses of new employees not more than each pay period from the departmental payroll clerk.
  3. The names and addresses provided to the Union shall be kept confidential.
  4. A Union steward or Union Field Representative is entitled to contact all newly-hired employees and transfers who are newly represented by the ESC Bargaining Unit, to present Union information, on the Union steward’s and employee’s own time (meaning rest breaks, meal breaks and after work hours).
  5. The Union recognizes and respects the legal right of each employee to the employee’s privacy and agrees not to use or allow others to use any information obtained pursuant to this agreement for commercial gain or in a manner that would violate those rights.  With respect to this promise, the Union agrees to indemnify, defend and hold harmless the County of Sonoma, its officers, employees and agents from any claim, liability or damage arising from the Union’s breach of its duty under this Memorandum.
  6. The County shall notify new ESC represented employees and transfers who are newly represented by the ESC Bargaining Unit, that the Union is the recognized employee organization for the employee’s job classification.

11.3.1 New Employee Union Orientation

  1. Within thirty (30) days of hire, employees shall normally be expected to attend a New Employee Orientation (“NEO”) program presented by the County Human Resources (“HR”) Department.  The County shall provide the Union written notice of all NEOs, including those presented by the County HR Department, Permit Sonoma (the Permit and Resource Management Department), the Department of Health Services and any other formal group department orientation program at which ESC Local 20 members are in attendance, excluding payroll sign-ups. 
  2. Said notice shall be given at least ten (10) calendar days in advance of a NEO, except that shorter notice may be provided in specific instances where there is an urgent need critical to the County’s operations that was not reasonably foreseeable.  In the event that a previously noticed NEO needs to be re-scheduled, the County shall notify the Union of the cancellation as soon as practicable. The County shall re-schedule ESC represented employees to attend another regularly scheduled NEO, taking into account required notice for union release time, and immediately notify the Union of the new date. 
  3. At least 72 hours in advance of a NEO the County shall provide the Union an electronic list of expected participants of each NEO, along with any contact information received by County HR from the hiring department at that time.  Each new employee shall receive a copy of the Union’s standard introductory packet, copies of which shall be provided by the Union.
  4. The Union shall have the opportunity to make a 30-minute presentation at each NEO program presented by the County HR Department with new hires or new transfers into the ESC Bargaining Unit in attendance.  The County shall provide the Union a copy of the sign-in sheet within five (5) business days of each NEO program presented by the County HR Department attended by ESC represented employees. 
  5. If a new hire or transfer into the ESC Bargaining Unit has not attended the Union Orientation section of a NEO program at County HR within forty-five (45) days of hire or transfer into the ESC Bargaining Unit, a Union steward or Union Field Representative may meet with the new or transfer employee for up to thirty (30) minutes during the new or transfer employee’s regular working hours, at the employee’s worksite.  
  6. One Union designee shall be granted 30 minutes of County release time plus reasonable release time for necessary travel to present on the Union’s behalf at the NEO program presented by the County HR Department or make-up sessions.
  7. In addition, the Union shall have the opportunity to make a 10-minute presentation at each NEO program presented by Permit Sonoma (the Permit and Resource Management Department), the Department of Health Services and any other formal group department orientation program at which ESC Local 20 members are in attendance.
  8. A NEO meeting (or make-up meeting) shall take place in a meeting room provided by the employer, during normal working hours and on paid time. No representative of management shall be present during the Union’s presentation at the NEO or make-up session.

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11.4 Bulletin Boards

County will furnish reasonable bulletin board space measuring no less than 36 x 48 inches. Bulletin boards shall be located in all primary worksites of County employees represented by ESC, and other mutually acceptable areas and shall, when reasonably possible, be out of plain view of the public. All materials to be posted on said boards shall be in good taste and strictly impersonal in nature and limited to the legitimate business of the Union.

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11.5 Communications

  1. Interdepartmental Messenger
    The County’s interdepartmental messenger service may be used for individual business-oriented communication between employees who are represented by Union and between the paid staff of Union and such employees, provided that paid staff of the Union shall pick up and deliver all written communications outside the County’s normal distribution route. Union understands that the continuance or discontinuance of the interdepartmental messenger service is a matter within the sole discretion of the County and will be administered in accordance with Section 14 of the County Employee Relations Policy.
  2. E-Mail Use
    As with union communications posted on bulletin boards, e-mail content shall be in good taste, impersonal in nature and limited to the legitimate business of the union. Further, the parties agree that time spent by County employees generating or responding to union notices or queries on the County e-mail system will be kept to a minimum. Should the union or the County have concerns about the length or content of specific communications they will contact the County Director of Labor Relations.

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11.6 Stewards

The Union may designate up to ten (10) Union Stewards from among employees in the bargaining unit. Stewards have the right and obligation to represent and assist individual employees as provided for in this Memorandum. The Union will provide the County’s Director of Labor Relations with a current and updated list of Stewards.

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11.7 Steward Duties

Duties required by the Union of its Stewards, except for attendance at formal meetings with the County, supervisory personnel and aggrieved employees arising out of a pre-disciplinary investigation, pre-disciplinary meeting, or any meeting under the grievance procedure,shall not interfere with the Union Stewards’ or other employees’ regular work assignments. No Steward may leave duty or work for purposes of Union representation without the specific approval of the Steward’s supervisor or other authorized management official.  Such release will not be capriciously or arbitrarily denied (Discipline as used in this provision shall mean oral or written reprimands, suspension without pay, involuntary demotion, or involuntary discharge).  The Union and the County agree that employee performance evaluation meetings which do not include a discussion of discipline will not create a right for Steward representation or assistance at the meeting.

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11.8 Steward Selection

While the Union is free to choose its Stewards from employees, it agrees that the number of Steward(s) from any one department, division or work area will not hinder effective working relationships or productivity and delivery of County services.  The Union’s request for Steward release time shall not be made capriciously or arbitrarily and release time demands of any one employee shall be within reasonable limits. The County will not take reprisal against any Steward for the Steward’s protected activities as provided for under this Memorandum.

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11.9 Work Access

Authorized Union representatives will be given access to work locations during working hours to investigate and process grievances or post bulletins on the bulletin board. Union representatives desiring access to a work location shall state the purpose of the visit and request the department head’s or designee’s authorization within a reasonable amount of time before the intended visit. Union shall give to each affected department head and the Director of Labor Relations a written list of authorized Union Representatives. Only those people whose names appear on the current list shall be granted access under this provision.

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11.10 Meeting Space

Upon request of the Union, the County may provide meeting space outside working hours, provided such space is available and Union complies with all departmental rules and policies of the Board of Supervisors.  Request for use of facilities shall be made in advance to the department head, and will indicate the date, time, and general purpose of the meeting and facilities needed.

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11.11 Classification Study Requests

In response to a written request from a department head, the Union, or an employee for a reclassification study, the Human Resources Department shall acknowledge receipt of said request and if possible indicate the general priority, if known, within thirty (30) calendar days of the date said request is received by the Human Resources Department. The Director of Human Resources or his designee will review the status of pending classification study requests with a staff member of Union upon request.

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11.12 Non-Discrimination for Union Activity

Neither the County nor the Union will discriminate against any employee because of the employee’s legitimate Union activity or non involvement in Union activity.

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11.13 Union / County Meetings

The Union and County shall meet whenever the Union’s Chief Steward, Union Representative, or General Manager and the County’s Director of Labor Relations agree to meet to discuss matters of mutual interest. Agenda items will be agreed to as well as the date and time of such meeting. Either party may refuse to meet if the subject of the meeting involves an ongoing grievance under Article 18.

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11.14 Union Business

11.14.1 Union Business Release Time Bank

The Union is authorized a total of 100 hours of paid Union Business Release Time each Fiscal Year, starting with the Board of Supervisors’ approval of the 2019-2023 Memorandum of Understanding between the parties. Additionally, on July 1, 2021 and also on July 1, 2022, the Union will be authorized an additional 25 hours of paid Union Business Release Time, resulting in a total of 125 hours of paid Union Business Release Time for Fiscal Year 2021/22 (July 2021 to June 2022) and Fiscal Year 2022/23 (July 2022 to June 2023).

Upon request from the Union Business Agent or designee, the County agrees to authorize stewards and other member(s) of the Union release time to attend to Union business related to County of Sonoma. In all cases use of Union Business Release Time will not unreasonably interfere with the Department’s operations and the Union member(s) shall secure permission from their supervisor before leaving their work assignment. The Union’s request for Union Business Release Time shall not be made capriciously or arbitrarily, and time demands on any one employee shall be within reasonable limits and with the approval of the designated supervisory representative.

Effective July 1, 2019, after one year of service, a represented employee in the bargaining unit may contribute up to twenty-two (22) hours per year of accrued compensatory time off or vacation hours. A contributor must have 80 hours vacation balance after contribution. There is no compensatory time off minimum balance. Represented employees may donate up to a total of one hundred twenty-five (125) hours of accrued vacation and/or compensatory-time-off- hours to the union release time bank each fiscal year. Donations must be made in minimum one (1) hour increments and shall be used before County- provided Union release time. Donations shall be irrevocable.

Starting on the date when the Union notifies the County of its intent to re-open the MOU, the County shall allow the Bargaining Team three (3) four-hour blocks of paid release time to prepare for negotiations.

11.14.2 Process

The Union shall normally request Union Business Release Time four (4) business days in advance of the release date. The Union and the County agree that issues will come up where four (4) business days advance notification is not possible. The Union will make every effort to notify the County as soon as possible and consider department operations when designating employees for Union Business Release Time in these situations. For any requests for Union Business Release Time, the Union shall specify in the request whether the time to be used will be paid time (which shall be subtracted from the Union Business Release Time Bank) or unpaid time.

11.14.3 Unpaid Release Time

Unpaid release time requested by the Union may be taken as paid time if the employee uses accrued vacation or compensatory time off.

11.14.4 Travel Time

Travel time related to Union business shall be handled in one of the following ways: 

  1. The Union shall request the travel time as Union Business Release Time and such time shall be subtracted from the Union Business Release Time Bank, 
  2. The employee shall use accrued vacation or compensatory time to cover the travel time, subject to advance approval of the employee’s supervisor, or 
  3. The employee may take unpaid time off, subject to advance approval of the employee’s supervisor.

11.14.5 Reporting

The Union shall provide a monthly reporting to the Employee Relations Manager with the names and hours used by Union member(s) during County work hours.

When paid release time for Union Business will result in overtime to backfill the position, the County will charge the Union Business Release Time Bank at the overtime rate. The County shall communicate to the Union the identity and number of hours worked by the replacement employee. 

11.14.6 Carry Over Hours

Up to 50 hours of unused Union release time may carryover at the end of the fiscal year. Total available hours in any fiscal year shall not exceed two hundred (200) hours. 

11.14.7 Union Business

Union Business Time for employees shall be provided as specified in this Memorandum of Understanding and as required by law.  The table below is provided as a guide only.

Union Business Release TimeCounty Release Time
Four (4) business days advance notice. Completion of release time form.
Approval of Employee Relations and Operational Department designee.
Union Business Release Time Bank hours charged.
Pre-approval from Employee Relations and Operational Department designee. Union time bank hours not charged. 
Union Sponsored Classes Steward Training Joint Labor Management Committees i.e., Joint Labor Management Benefits Committee meeting (JLMBC)
Housing Assistance Committee (HAC), etc.
Internal Union MattersCounty Initiated Informational Meetings / Surveys
Union Safety MeetingsMeet and Confer
Civil Service Commission Meetings – general attendanceCivil Service Commission Meetings (Appellants and Appellant’s Representative)
Meetings with business agents or union officials.

Grievances (Grievant and Representative)

  • Investigations 
  • Grievance meetings
  • Arbitration
Union Organizing CampaignsNotice of Intended Disciplinary action. (Skelly) Meeting  
BOS MeetingsInterest Based Bargaining Training
Special Elections and Ratifications 

11.14.8 Indemnification

The Union shall defend, indemnify, hold harmless, release and save the County, its agents and employees, from and against any and all claims, demands, suits, orders, judgments, expenses or other forms of liability arising out of or in connection with this Article and/or any action taken by the County and/or the Union under this Article 11.30, including, but not limited to, Union members taking paid release time to attend to Union business.  This indemnification clause shall be in addition to any other remedy available to the County under this contract or provision of the law.

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