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The Public Employee Collective Bargaining Act (PECBA), ORS 243.650 - 243.806, establishes a collective bargaining and dispute resolution process for Oregon’s public employers and unions representing public employees. Employers covered by PECBA include, among others, the State of Oregon, cities, counties, school districts, community colleges, public hospitals, and special districts. PECBA is administered by this Board (ERB).
Under PECBA, a public employer and the union representing the public employees are initially required to meet and bargain directly with each other (ORS 243.712(1)). PECBA requires that the parties participate in good faith negotiations for at least 150 calendar days before either party may unilaterally request the assignment of a mediator. For a new bargaining unit, the 150 days begin when a union is first recognized or certified. For negotiations over a successor agreement or a reopener in a current agreement, the 150 days begin when the parties meet for the first bargaining session and have exchanged their initial proposals, or an alternative date to which both parties agree in writing. (Note: In addition to the process described here, ORS 243.698 provides for a 90-day expedited bargaining process for changes in mandatory conditions during the term of a contract as discussed below.)
Before 1995, PECBA required that parties go through a non-binding fact finding process after mediation. In 1995, the legislature eliminated mandatory fact finding and substituted the declaration of impasse/final offer process. However, PECBA still provides for a voluntary fact finding process (ORS 243.722). Parties may access the voluntary fact finding process by jointly petitioning ERB to initiate fact finding during the 30-day “cooling off period.” The petition to initiate fact finding must be written and may be made in letter or other format. Fact finding procedures are set out in detail in ORS 243.722 and OAR 115-040-0010. A 30-day cooling off period begins when the fact finder issues a report. The mutual acceptance by the parties of the fact finder’s report results in a contract. If either party rejects the report, the bargaining process continues.
If the parties do not reach agreement after the initial 150 calendar days of bargaining, either party can initiate the mediation process by sending a written request for mediation to this Board’s State Conciliation Service (ORS 243.712(2)). The parties may also mutually agree to go to mediation before the expiration of the 150-day period. In these cases, the request for mediation must be signed by both parties.
The final step in the collective bargaining process depends on the type of work done by the employees in the bargaining unit. The statute prohibits strikes by certain employees (see ORS 243.736 and ORS 243.738 for a list of employees prohibited from striking). For all other represented employees, the final step in the collective bargaining process for unions and employees is the right to strike. The employees in a strike-permitted bargaining unit may go on strike after completing the prior steps of the PECBA bargaining process in good faith and giving 10 days’ notice of the intent to strike and the reason for the intent to strike (ORS 243.726). The notice of intent to strike must be sent by certified mail to ERB and the public employer. The notice may be sent during the 30-day cooling off period, although a strike cannot occur until after the 30-day period.
PECBA provides for an expedited bargaining process for employer proposals to change certain employment relations during the term of a collective bargaining contract (ORS 243.698). Under this process, an employer must give the union notice of its intent to change a condition that imposes a bargaining obligation. Within 14 days after the employer’s notice, the union may file a demand to bargain. Failure to file a demand within the 14 days is a waiver of the union’s right to bargain. The required bargaining obligation ceases 90 days after the employer’s notice to the union. During that 90-day period, the parties may jointly request mediation, but binding arbitration cannot be initiated.
Local government employers and unions are each charged a fee for collective bargaining mediation services (ORS 240.610). The local public employer and the exclusive representative shall each pay one-half of the amount of the fee to the board. The fees are: (a) $1,000 for the first two mediation sessions ($500 per party); (b) $625 for the third mediation session ($312.50 per party); (c) $625 for the fourth mediation session ($312.50 per party); and (d) $1,000 for each additional mediation session ($500 per party). Mediation services for the State of Oregon and its employees are funded through interagency assessments.
If no settlement is reached within 15 days of the first mediation session, the parties may either continue in mediation or either party may declare an impasse (ORS 243.712(2)). A party declares an impasse by filing a written notice of declaration of impasse with ERB and submitting a copy of the notice to the other party on the same day the notice is filed with ERB. Click here to submit a Declaration of Impasse. The mediator may declare an impasse before the expiration of the 15 days of mediation; however, it is not the practice of the State Conciliation Service to do this. If no settlement is reached within 15 days of the first mediation session, the parties may either continue in mediation or either party may declare an impasse (ORS 243.712(2)). A party declares an impasse by filing a written notice of declaration of impasse with ERB and submitting a copy of the notice to the other party on the same day the notice is filed with ERB. The mediator may declare an impasse before the expiration of the 15 days of mediation; however, it is not the practice of the State Conciliation Service to do this. Within 7 days of the date that the declaration of impasse is filed with ERB, both parties are required to submit their final offers and cost summaries of their offer to the mediator. For strike-prohibited units, the parties must also include a petition to initiate binding arbitration with the final offer. After the mediator receives the final offers and cost summaries, the mediator makes them public. View recently filed final offers and cost summaries. A 30-day “cooling off” period follows the publication of the final offer. The purpose of this time is to allow for further attempts to resolve the dispute before the parties exercise their self-help measures.
Strikes are prohibited for certain public employees (ORS 243.736 and ORS 243.738). Bargaining units including these employees are designated as strike-prohibited units under PECBA. As an alternative to a strike by the employees and final offer implementation by the employer, PECBA requires that the unions and employers of strike-prohibited units use binding interest arbitration for unresolved employment relations (ORS 243. 742 and 243.746). The binding arbitration process is initiated by filing a petition with ERB, along with the final offer. ERB then sends notice to the parties that binding arbitration has been initiated. The specific procedures for binding arbitration are set out in ORS 243.742, ORS 243.746, and OAR 115-040-0015. An interest arbitration award becomes the parties’ contract.
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