It is hard to believe that we are a third of the way through the year. During these last few months, PERC has continued to be busy on many fronts.
In January of this year, we began reintroducing in-person events. Following last year’s pilot of the return to in-person services, the decision whether to conduct an event in person or virtually now rests with the PERC staff member conducting the event. In the first third of this year, the vast majority of our events have been conducted virtually as there has not been a huge clamoring for in-person events.
Last month, we did conduct the first in-person Northwest LERA Conference since 2019. The conference, cosponsored by PERC and the FMCS, was very successful with 400 attendees. While we were able to successfully offer virtual LERA conferences over the last two years, a virtual event does not provide the same opportunity to connect with our clientele as an in-person conference. Many thanks to the LERA planning committee and especially the PERC staff on the committee and all the PERC staff who helped put on the conference.
We recently issued our Annual Report for 2022. The report contains data on interesting trends and shows PERC to be a leader in labor relations and dispute resolution. Many thanks to my assistant, Vanessa Smith, for creating the report. Among the notable points in the report is that the number of election petitions continued to be high. This appears to be a post-Janus phenomenon where there has been a 33% increase in the average number of election petitions filed in the years since 2018. Another trend noted in the report is the number of unfair labor practice complaints filed by self-represented individuals. These complaints accounted for 38% of the unfair labor practice filings in 2022.
With the increase in filings made by self-represented individuals, it has become more apparent that we need to look at guidance materials for litigants, particularly those who do not frequently appear before PERC. This is one of the areas targeted to be addressed in our new strategic plan. The new plan was completed in January and covers 2023–2025. You can review the plan here.
Also in January, the rules revisions adopted by the Commission last November went into effect. Among the changes are new procedural rules for dispositive motions and an advisory opinion process for state interest arbitration eligible groups. Parties are encouraged to review the rules to ensure their citations reference the current rule.
Additionally, in the coming months, we will begin external testing of our e-filing system. The system will allow external parties to file cases and enter documents directly into our case management system. Like many IT projects, the e-filing project has had its ups and downs, but it is currently on track for full usage by parties by the end of the year.
These are just a few of the things currently going on at PERC. In the meantime, please contact me with any questions, comments, or feedback.
Michael P. Sellars, Executive Director
Public Employment Relations Commission