The Ohio Public Employees’ Collective Bargaining Act of 1983 (codified under Chapter 4117 of the Ohio Revised Code) sets forth the rights of OEA’s members to collectively bargain. Included in these rights is the ability of employees and employee organizations (associations) to file unfair labor practices (“ULPs”). An unfair labor practice is a charge filed with the State Employment Relations Board (“SERB”) that alleges a violation of Chapter 4117. Such violations can include the following:
- Bad faith bargaining or refusal to bargain;
- Retaliation for association activity;
- Interference with the formation or administration of an association;
- A failure of the association in its duty to fairly represent all bargaining unit members; and
- Refusal of the employer to process grievances, among other actions.
Once a ULP is filed, SERB conducts an investigation to determine if probable cause exists to send the matter to a SERB administrative hearing. SERB’s investigation can also include attempts to mediate disputes between the employer and the local association. An OEA attorney represents the local association and/or member during this process, from the filing of a ULP to any hearing before SERB.
A ULP is different from a grievance. A grievance is when the collective bargaining agreement has not been followed. For example, the administration did not follow the job posting & bidding procedure outlined in the contract. A ULP is when labor law is violated. For example, the administration refused to bargain a new contract when the last contract expired. That’s bad faith and is a violation of labor law, but does not violate any specific provision of the contract. Therefore, it’s a ULP, not a grievance. Sometimes, the same set of circumstances can give rise to a ULP and a grievance.
If you feel that you or your association has been the victim of an unfair labor practice, you should contact your Labor Relations Consultant, who will begin the process of assigning an OEA attorney to the case.