Rex Randall Erickson has been an attorney for twenty-three years and for the last fifteen years has exclusively represented school and college districts in labor, negotiations and employment matters throughout the State. In that time, he has served as chief negotiator on more than forty (40) occasions representing a dozen California school and college districts in negotiations with six different classified and faculty labor organizations (CTA/CCA/NEA, AFT, CSEA, IOUE, SEIU, and an independent organization). In addition, he has represented a California State University Foundation in negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement with SAG-AFTRA. He has further counseled, advised and trained several other school and college administrators on negotiations and negotiation-related matters even when not sitting at the table.
In addition to assisting in “at the table” negotiations, a substantial portion of Erickson Law Firm’s practice involves contract interpretation and advising in on-going employer-employee relations with the objective of assisting the firm’s clients in avoiding disputes relating to labor relations and organizational issues. That includes counseling the district with regard to the validity and merits of its proposed actions and communicating the district’s position to the union early on in a potential dispute. It is as much a part of our role to advise the district of conduct that potentially violates the EERA or the collective bargaining agreement in order to avoid conflicts as it is to defend the district in the event those conflicts arise.
Our attorneys have also conducted numerous negotiation-related training over the years at statewide conferences for organizations such as ACHRO, CODESP, CSBA, and SSDA, as well as in-house for individual negotiation teams, management, and governing boards. This training has included presentations and workshops on basic labor relations, sunshining, advanced negotiation techniques, the role of administrators during negotiations, the role of the board members during negotiations, and what boards can expect during difficult negotiations.
Impasse, Mediation, Fact-Finding, Post-Fact Finding, Strikes
Of the more than forty (40) contract and reopener negotiations in which our attorneys have participated, six (6) have gone to impasse and one of these went to fact-finding. All six settled during mediation or at fact-finding.
We have not had any of the negotiations for which we were responsible result in a strike. However we have frequently advised clients on how to respond to informational picketing, work-to-rule and work slowdowns, and other organized labor activities during labor unrest.
PERB Unfair Practice Charges
As indicated above, a majority of the firm’s practice involves advising clients on how to avoid unfair practice claims. However, that is sometimes unavoidable and we have substantial experience in successfully defending our clients against unfair practice charges and have further succeeded in getting an unfair practice complaint issued against an employee organization. Our attorneys have represented district clients in dozens of unfair practice charges, all of which have resulted in a favorable decision or a settlement that was acceptable to our client – frequently with an agreement only to bargain what is legally required to be bargain.
Labor Grievances and Arbitrations
Another substantial part of our practice is advising our clients on contract interpretation and enforcement so as to limit or avoid confusion that frequently gives rise to grievances. Once filed, however, we take a proactive approach to responding to grievances. Our approach is to review the grievance and investigate the underlying claims, review the contract provisions in question, and make a determination as to the merits of the claims in question. If the grievance has merit, we appropriately advise our client on its options for resolving the dispute. If the grievance has no merit, we vigorously advocate and defend the rights of the district at hearing.
Negotiated Compensation Formulas, Fringe Benefits, Including Health and Welfare Benefits
The attorneys of Erickson Law Firm are adept at both interest-based and traditional bargaining formats. With extensive experience negotiating salary schedules, compensation formulas, and fringe benefits, including health and welfare benefits, we have successfully and efficiently negotiated salary reductions; stipend reductions and restrictions; retirement incentive programs; furlough days; maximum contributions to health benefit programs; additional work days and hours; limits on the availability of or compensation for hourly and overload assignments; and reductions in extraneous reimbursements and expenditures.