Start the meeting by explaining the proposed change and the reasons for the change. You should use the comparison document you prepared as a guide to assist you in explaining the change, and you might also prepare an outline of the plan to share with those in attendance.
It is essential to remember that you must participate in this meeting in good faith. The Meyers-Milias-Brown Act, governing management-labor relationships in California local governments, mandates that you shall have the “obligation personally to meet and confer promptly upon request” and “continue for a reasonable period of time in order to exchange freely information, opinions, and proposals, and to endeavor to reach agreement on matters within the scope of representation.”
The representative(s) may ask questions during your presentation. It is appropriate to answer questions that you feel comfortable answering. It is also appropriate to respond by saying that you’ll have to research the question asked and that you will get back to them. It is essential that you do then get back to the representative(s) with the answers.
After you have completed your presentation, the employee organization representative(s) may offer their opinion on your proposal and present alternative suggestions. It is important to listen to their point of view. The employee organization may present facts or issues that you had not considered. Also, if an alternative approach is presented that meets your stated goals, you must fairly consider it and adopt it unless it involves additional costs or results in operational problems.
The union may also say they need to consider the proposal, and ask to schedule another meeting to present their response. Always schedule this next meeting and agree to a date at the time it is proposed, ensuring that the process moves forward. Call Employee & Labor Relations for guidance any time an employee organization cancels a meeting at the last minute, or appears to be delaying or slowing down the process.
Always take what the employee organization(s) representative(s) say under advisement and assure those at the meeting that you will get back to them. You should not become argumentative at the table, and only commit to changes at the table that you are sure are within County and Departmental management parameters. The decision to make changes or implement as originally planned should usually be made only after a subsequent meeting with management, and where appropriate, Employee & Labor Relations.