Well, it wasn’t fun while it lasted, but the thing we all fretted over for years, which finally came to fruition in the last year, the PERB, has been placed back on a temporary hiatus by the Minnesota legislature, effective July 1, 2021.
While the legislature set aside a one-time appropriation of funds for the PERB, it was only $125,000. That much money over the course of three years is about as much as a State agency needs to just keep the lights on. While the language of the new law is a bit confusing, the Legislature makes it clear that cases may no longer be brought before the PERB until at least July 1, 2023:
Following enactment of this section and until July 1, 2023, any employee, employer, employee or employer organization, exclusive representative, or any other person or organization aggrieved by an unfair labor practice as defined in Minnesota Statutes, section 179A.13, may bring an action for injunctive relief and for damages caused by the unfair labor practice in the district court of the county in which the practice is alleged to have occurred.
Cases currently pending before the Board will still be reviewed by it. Months ago, we discussed one case that was actually headed for a hearing (which was ironically filed against the State). A review of the case log for the PERB shows that that case remains the only charge filed against a public employer that is scheduled to be heard by the PERB. However, the case log also shows a number of unfair labor practices that were coincidentally filed the day before the Board stopped accepting cases.
While we all feared what the PERB might become – a mini-NLRB, changing its opinion with the political tide – the damage done by the Board was almost non-existent. It did provide an easier way for unions to file charges against employers, but rarely provided them the relief they were seeking.
So cue up the Sarah McLachlan, for we will remember the PERB. Will it remember us? For now, it’s back to district court for unions feeling put upon by their employers and for other party’s aggrieved by ULPs. If you, or your organization, need assistance in responding to unfair labor practice charges, contact Wiley Reber Law, for unfair labor practice experience that works.