As we approach the end of 2022, PERC is preparing to move to the next phase of conducting in-person events. We began piloting the reintroduction of in-person events in October. During the pilot, any request to conduct an event in person was required to be approved by me. Since October, we have only received four requests. Beginning January 1, individual Labor Relations Adjudicators/Mediators will have the discretion to determine whether to conduct an event in person or virtually.
While we continued to provide our services almost exclusively via Zoom in 2022, the overall case numbers have rebounded to more “normal” pre-pandemic levels. In particular, the number of mediation requests received in 2022 is more on par with our historical average. The number of training requests continues to increase over the 2020 and 2021 levels but is still not at a pre-pandemic level. In 2022, we launched The PERColator Podcast as part of the Negotiation Project and released 25 episodes. Those episodes range from looking at issues in negotiation and mediation to profiling labor relations professionals.
PERC staff also demonstrated their expertise outside the agency. In October, Labor Relations Adjudicator/Mediator (LRAM) Chris Casillas was honored by Seattle University School of Law as the 2022–23 Outstanding Adjunct Professor. Chris has taught labor law, negotiations, constitutional law, and other assorted courses at Seattle University and University of Washington Law Schools for a number of years.
In November, PERC welcomed Liz Ford to the Commission. Liz has an extensive background in labor relations and collective bargaining. Additionally, Liz has worked on both the labor and employer side, has served as a neutral, and is currently working as a professor at Seattle University School of Law. Liz will serve the unexpired term of Ken Pedersen, who resigned from the Commission after serving since 2019. PERC also welcomed back Jessica Bradley as an LRAM. Jessica was with PERC for approximately 10 years before leaving the agency in 2018. We will also welcome Page Todd back to the agency in January, also as an LRAM. Page was with PERC for approximately 10 years before leaving the agency in 2020.
Also in November, the Commission adopted the final proposed rules changes that culminated the process to streamline and modernize our rules. This process began in 2018, and we worked extensively with staff, clientele, and the Commission to identify areas for review and improvement and to gather input and feedback on proposed rule changes. All told, 26 new rules were adopted, 72 rules were repealed, and 131 rules were amended.
Looking ahead, we are working on the 2023–2025 Strategic Plan. The plan is expected to be completed in January and will help guide our work over the next three years. Our annual report for 2022 will report on the objectives and initiatives in the 2020–2022 Strategic Plan.
Finally, I want to thank my staff for all their work over the last year. Each person at PERC is dedicated to what they do and serving the clientele, the public, and the public-sector collective bargaining system. They consistently look to grow and improve in how they provide services. None of our successes would be possible without their work and dedication.
Michael P. Sellars, Executive Director
Public Employment Relations Commission