Unfair Labor Practices Guide
UNFAIR LABOR PRACTICES
and
Your Right To Be Heard
Before the
Public Employment Relations Commission

This information comes from a pamphlet for public employees who claim that their employer or union has violated certain state laws in connection with their employment. The Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC) has a process to resolve these disputes.

This is only basic information about how PERC processes these cases.

What is an unfair labor practice?
Washington state laws establish certain collective bargaining rights and processes, and authorize PERC to decide claims under those laws. Individual employees have the right to file certain kinds of unfair labor practice cases:
  • Employees can claim interference if an employer or union threatens reprisal or force, or promises benefit to the employee, in connection with his or her exercise of collective bargaining rights.
  • Employees can claim domination if an employer provides financial or other support to a union, or an employer involves itself in the internal affairs of a union.
  • Employees can claim discrimination if an employer or union causes him or her to be deprived of some right, status or benefit in connection with the exercise of collective bargaining rights.
Even if other actions or inaction seem "unfair" to you, those are the only types of unfair labor practice cases that individual employees can pursue.

Individual employees cannot pursue "refusal to bargain" claims before PERC. A duty to bargain in good faith exists between an employer and a union representing its employees, but only those parties can pursue claims under that part of the law.

PERC does not remedy violations of collective bargaining agreements through unfair labor practice cases.
Does PERC have jurisdiction over my employment situation?
You need to determine which state law (if any) covers your employment relationship, and follow that law. PERC administers several chapters of the Revised Code of Washington (RCW), covering different groups of public employees:

STATE GOVERNMENT: LOCAL GOVERNMENT: All of these state laws are available from the PERC office, at 360-570-7300, or on PERC's www.perc.wa.gov website. If your employment situation is not on this list, contact PERC for more information.

How does PERC process unfair labor practice cases?
Three different chapters of Washington Administrative Code (WAC) rules apply to these cases:

All of those rules are available from the PERC office, at 360-570-7300, or on PERC's www.perc.wa.gov website.
What happens when an unfair labor practice case is filed?
PERC sends a "Notice of Case Filing" to all parties, with name/address information on all parties and the case number. Please use that case number whenever you contact PERC.

The PERC staff makes sure all necessary information is supplied in the U-1 form, statement of facts and remedy request, and sends all parties a deficiency notice (with a deadline for reply) if anything else is needed.

If it appears that an unfair labor practice violation could be found on the basis of the facts alleged in the complaint, the case is assigned to a PERC staff member, who will contact the parties about scheduling a hearing.
What issues are resolved in unfair labor practice cases?
The only issues that can be resolved in unfair labor practice cases are:
  • Whether there was action or inaction prohibited as an "unfair labor practice" in a state collective bargaining law.
  • What remedy is appropriate to restore injured parties to the situation that existed before the law was violated.
Other issues related to the collective bargaining process, including violations of collective bargaining agreements, cannot be resolved in these cases.
What happens at a hearing?
A hearing is a formal legal proceeding that resembles a court trial.
  • An Examiner assigned from the PERC staff acts as the judge.
  • A court reporter hired by PERC records the proceedings. Parties that want a copy of the transcript must buy a copy from the court reporter.
  • The parties must provide evidence (through testimony of witnesses and exhibits) on the disputed issues.
  • The rules of evidence used in courts are not strictly applied.
The parties usually file written arguments (briefs) after the hearing is closed.
Will PERC represent me or provide me with an attorney?
No. PERC staff members act in a neutral capacity, and can only answer questions about procedures. PERC staff members cannot provide legal advice or take the side of any party.

Do I need to hire an attorney?
You are not required to have an attorney.
However, you should:
  • Study the statute and rules.
  • Review your claims and evidence.
  • Make your own decision about whether to hire an attorney at your own expense.
When and How Will I Be Informed of PERC's Decision?
After the hearing has closed and all written arguments have been filed, PERC will issue a written decision based on the evidence received at the hearing. The time target for issuing decisions is 90 days after the last written argument is filed. The PERC staff cannot provide any information about the content of a decision until it is officially issued.
Can my Union or Employer Retaliate Against Me?
It is illegal for a public employer or a union to retaliate against a public employee who files a petition or gives testimony at a PERC hearing. If you believe you have been the victim of retaliation, contact PERC about filing an unfair labor practice complaint.
If I Have Other Questions, Who Should I Contact?
This pamphlet is designed to provide a general introduction to PERC procedure, and is not intended to provide legal advice on any particular case or issue. If you have questions about PERC procedures not answered by this pamphlet, you can call PERC at 360-570-7300.
What is PERC?
PERC is an independent agency of the State of Washington that is responsible for resolving disputes involving public employers, public employees, and the unions that represent those employees. If you want more information about the agency, visit the PERC website at www.perc.wa.gov.
How do I file a case with PERC?
If you claim an unfair labor practice has been committed, you need to -
  • File your claim with PERC within six months after the unfair labor practice.
  • Fill out PERC Form U-1 (available from the PERC office, at 360-570-7300, or on the PERC website).
  • Write a "Statement of Facts" on separate sheets of paper, using numbered paragraphs to clearly and concisely describe the facts constituting the alleged unfair labor practice, including times, dates, places and participants in the occurrences.
  • Write a "Remedy Request" on a separate sheet of paper.
  • Mail the form, statement of facts and remedy request to PERC at PO Box 40919, Olympia WA 98504-0919, or deliver them to PERC at 112 Henry Street NE, Ste 300, Olympia, WA 98506-4470.
  • Give or send a copy of the form, statement of facts and remedy request to the union and employer involved.
For more information please contact:

Public Employment Relations Commission

US MAIL: PO Box 40919
Olympia, WA 98504-0919

ADDRESS: 112 Henry St NE Ste 300
Olympia, WA 98506-4470

E-MAIL: info@perc.wa.gov
TELEPHONE: (360) 570-7300
FACSIMILE: (360) 570-7334