Focus on New Laws: Public Employment Relations Board

For the fourth consecutive year, the Legislature delayed the operations of the Public Employment Relations Board and appropriated only minimal funding.
(Published Sep 11, 2017)

The 2014 Legislature re-established the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) to investigate, hear, and resolve unfair labor practice (ULP) charges and complaints filed under the Public Employment Labor Relations Act (2014 Minnesota Session Laws, chapter 211). However, the Legislature has delayed the effective date every year since, and the 2017 Legislature was no different.

The 2017 omnibus jobs and economic development policy and budget bill (Chapter 94) included language again delaying the effective date. Article 12, section 1 delayed the start date to July 1, 2020, and article 1, section 5 appropriated $125,000 for fiscal year (FY) 2018 and FY 2019.

History of the PERB
Dating back to the 1970s, Minnesota had a PERB in place, but over time, its responsibilities were changed and reassigned to another bureau. Until the re-emergence of the PERB in 2014, ULP actions could be brought in Minnesota district courts through injunctive relief. This remains the current process until the PERB is fully operational and sufficiently funded.

The PERB has three members: one member represents public employees and is appointed by the governor; one member represents public employers and is also appointed by the governor; and the third represents the public at large and is appointed by the other two members. The board selects one of its members to serve as chair on July 1 of each year. The board also selects alternative members to serve on the board.

Although it was recreated in Minnesota Statutes, chapter 179A in 2014 and received initial funding, the board has yet to be fully funded or operational.

The 2015 Legislature extended the effective date of when the PERB could begin hearing ULP charges from July 1, 2015, to July 1, 2016, and the 2016 Legislature delayed the effective date until July 1, 2017. Funding in FY 2015 through FY 2017 was appropriated to the Bureau of Mediation Services for purposes of the PERB in the amount of $125,000 per year from the general fund.

The League’s position
The League supports the structure and process to address ULPs that was used before the re-establishment of the PERB in 2014. Much of the current statutory language regarding implementation should be amended to ensure the PERB operates successfully and efficiently for both public employees and employers. If the PERB is ever implemented fully and funded sufficiently, the League encourages the Legislature to make several changes.

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