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June 29, 2023

Newly Enacted Public Employee Relations Act Standardizes Collective Bargaining for State and Education Employees in Maryland

Effective July 1, 2023, the Maryland Public Employee Relations Act (“PERA”) will standardize and clarify the procedures for collective bargaining by state employees and education employees across the state. Public employees in Maryland obtained the right to collectively bargain in 1998 and 2001, resulting in fragmented labor laws.
Home » News » Newly Enacted Public Employee Relations Act Standardizes Collective Bargaining for State and Education Employees in Maryland

Megan K. Mechak
Thu, 06/29/2023

Effective July 1, 2023, the Maryland Public Employee Relations Act (“PERA”) will standardize and clarify the procedures for collective bargaining by state employees and education employees across the state. Public employees in Maryland obtained the right to collectively bargain in 1998 and 2001, resulting in fragmented labor laws. PERA will standardize many of those laws.

PERA consolidates the hodge podge of laws governing collective bargaining for State employees, public university, community college, and local public school system employees, and independent home care providers into one statute. Although existing common rules, processes, and procedures will generally remain intact, obsolete provisions are being repealed.

The biggest change will occur when the State consolidates its three existing labor boards into one Public Employee Relations Board (“PERB”). Presently, there are three state labor boards: the State Labor Relations Board (which oversees and adjudicates collective bargaining matters for Executive Branch employees), the State Higher Education Labor Relations Board (which serves the same function for higher education employees), and the Public Schools Labor Relations Board (which adjudicates collective bargaining matters local school board employees). All three labor boards will be consolidated into one PERB effective July 1.

In addition to consolidating the labor boards, PERA provided PERB with new tools to enforce collective bargaining agreements and to remedy unfair labor practices. PERA will also speed up deadlines to allow Unions to quickly and effectively address unfair labor practices.

PERA will also make it easier for Unions to obtain recognition, requiring agencies to recognize and bargain with a Union when it can demonstrate that more than 50% of the employees in a given bargaining unit are members. In situations where an election is required, PERA grants PERB more flexibility in conducting electronic or mail elections, and restricts management’s ability to argue that employees should be excluded from a bargaining unit.

Finally, the law specifically states that it is the public policy in Maryland to encourage collective bargaining among public-sector employees, and to protect employees who exercise that right. To further that policy goal, PERA prohibits state agencies from spending state funds to hire Union-busting law firms to fight collective bargaining and provides additional protections to employees who exercise their rights to form, join, or advocate for a Union.

MSE represents public sector Unions and their members across the country. For more information visit https://www.mselaborlaw.com/practice-areas/labor-unions or contact us at info@mselaborlaw.com.

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