As 2018 fades, it continues to be busy at PERC. Mediations involving teachers and classified employees in the K-12 sector clearly dominated our work in the latter half of 2018. In September, I wrote that we had received 45 teacher mediation requests. That number has since increased to 51 teacher mediation requests, and one case is still open. We have also received 57 mediation requests involving K-12 classified employees, and 30 of those cases are still open.
The volume of teacher mediations and the media coverage of those cases provided an opportunity to educate the public about public sector collective bargaining, the value of mediation, and the work done by PERC staff.
Overall, the volume and types of cases are roughly similar to last year’s. As we begin to prepare the annual report for 2018, we will look for any new trends in the types of cases filed.
Also mentioned in my last message was Commissioner Mark Brennan’s departure after the completion of his term in September. In October, Spencer Nathan Thal was appointed to the Commission by Governor Jay Inslee. Spencer has substantial public sector collective bargaining experience. We welcome him to the Commission.
This fall we applauded the achievements of PERC’s first Executive Director when Marv Schurke was honored by the American Bar Association with its Arvid Anderson Award. This award recognizes an attorney whose career substantially contributed to the development of public sector labor law as exemplified by Arvid Anderson. Arvid Anderson pioneered labor law for public employees at the state and local level first as Secretary and Commissioner of the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission (WERC) from 1948 to 1967 and then as Chairman of the New York City Office of Collective Bargaining from 1968 to 1987. Anderson was the president of the National Academy of Arbitrators in 1987. Marv served as PERC’s Executive Director for 30 years. He played a major role not just in the creation of PERC but also in public sector labor law in Washington. At the conference where Marv received the award, he was cited for his many contributions to the development of public sector labor relations in the United States. From his colleagues at PERC, congratulations to Marv on this well-deserved honor.
In 2019, we will continue to watch a few of our cases that are on appeal in the superior court and court of appeals. We will also continue to monitor what impact the US Supreme Court decision in Janus v. AFSCME has on our work and on public sector labor relations in Washington.
Finally, I invite you to join us at the 42nd annual LERA conference on March 28 and 29, 2019, at the Washington State Convention Center. The agenda is coming together, and the conference promises to again be a great event.
Michael P. Sellars, Executive Director
Public Employment Relations Commission
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National Labor Relations Board at 206.220.6300 or nlrb.gov
Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service at 206.553.5800 or fmcs.gov
Human Rights Commission at 800.233.3247 or hum.wa.gov
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission at 800.669.4000 or eeoc.gov
Employment Standards/Workplace Rights
Department of Labor and Industries at 866.219.7321 or lni.wa.gov