The County and Union agree that professional, productive, and positive labor relations can be accomplished when Union and County representatives work together to support the services we provide to the public. To support this philosophy, the parties have agreed to the provisions regarding attendance at meetings and handling of meetings. Paid release time is intended to support the collaboration and cooperative spirit of labor relations by ensuring that Union members have access to resources designed to help support their continued success as public employees and that Union leaders have an opportunity to work together to support the success of their members.

3.1       Attendance at Meetings

County employees who are official representatives or Stewards of the Union shall be given reasonable time off with pay, including reasonable travel time (or reasonable set up time for virtual meetings), to formally meet and confer or consult with management representatives on matters within the scope of representation or to be present at hearings where matters within the scope of representation are being considered; to testify or appear as the designated representative of the Union in settlement conferences, hearings, or other proceedings before PERB, in matters relating to an unfair practice charge; or to testify or appear as the designated representative of the Union in matters before the Civil Service Commission. In the event that these meetings are held virtually, employees on site may reserve available, private meeting space, provided it does not interfere with County business operations. The use of official time for this purpose shall be reasonable and shall not interfere with the performance of County services as determined by the County. Such representatives or stewards shall submit written requests for excused absences to Employee Relations at least two (2) working days prior to the meeting whenever possible. Except by agreement with Employee Relations, the number of employees excused for such purposes shall not exceed three (3) per Union, or two (2) from each of the following representation units:

  • Accounting and Administrative Services Unit
  • Appraisal Unit
  • Engineering Unit
  • Library Unit
  • And five (5) from Office and Technical Services Unit, whichever is greater, at any one time.

If any employee’s request for excused absence is not approved, they will be provided the reason for denial in writing. Such disapproval shall be subject to appeal to the Human Resources Director, whose decision shall be final.

Shop stewards working P.M. shifts shall be provided two (2) hours of paid release time and reasonable travel time within San Mateo County to attend monthly steward council meetings held in the evening, not to exceed four (4) times per year. Stewards working day shifts shall be provided two (2) hours of paid release time and reasonable travel time within San Mateo County to attend monthly steward council meetings held during the day, not to exceed eight (8) times per year.

The number of stewards released shall not exceed thirty (30) in any given month. Requests for release time shall be made to Employee Relations by the Union.

The Union shall provide updated lists of chapter officers and stewards to Employee Relations on a quarterly basis. Only chapter officers and stewards on the lists shall be eligible for release time.

It is acknowledged that the County will attempt to provide such release time, but that each instance must be considered on a case-by-case basis and the County shall not unreasonably deny requests. Any denial of requested time off may be appealed to the Human Resources Director, whose decision shall be final.

All approved release time will be coded appropriately on the employee’s timecard using pay code RTE. Paid release time is authorized for the following activities:

  • Transmitting communications authorized by the Local Union or its Officers to the County or his/her representative.
  • Meetings with County management concerning the enforcement of any provision of this Agreement or matters within scope of representation;
  • Investigating and processing grievances or disciplinary appeals;
  • Attending Union contract ratification and chapter meetings;
  • Attending Labor-Management meetings;
  • Posting Union notices in County designated/authorized locations.

Paid release time is not authorized to be used for political activity, any type of activity that is precluded by law or County policy as a conflict of interest, conducting membership drives, or soliciting membership from other County employees or applicants.

Time spent in meetings with the County on matters listed in Section 3, which occur outside of the employee’s regular work schedule, is not compensable. Employees should not code release time for such time when the employee is not scheduled to work.

3.2       Handling of Grievances

The Union shall designate a reasonable number of stewards to assist in resolving grievances. The designation will depend on such circumstances as geographical locations, hours of employment, and departmental organizational structure. The Union shall notify Employee Relations in writing of the individuals so designated. Alternates may be designated to perform Steward’s function during the absence or unavailability of the stewards. Stewards may be relieved from their assigned work duties by their supervisors to investigate and process grievances initiated by other employees within the same work area or representation unit, including participating in Steps 1-4 of the grievance process as described in Section 38.2. Requests for release time shall not be unreasonably denied. Stewards shall promptly report to the Union any grievances which arise and cannot be adjusted on the job. Supervisory employees shall not represent non-supervisory employees in a grievance procedure where such activity might result in a conflict of interest. Neither stewards nor the Union shall order changes, and no change shall be made except with the consent of the appropriate department heads.

The Union shall notify the County in advance of an investigatory meeting if an additional steward is required to attend for the purpose of taking notes. Unless the County objects, an additional steward may be released for this purpose.

3.3       Union Release Time

  • The County and the Union agree that the Union may designate representatives to be freed from their normal job duties and responsibilities without reduction in their full pay and benefits for release time activities and duties performed in accordance with this section.
  1. The Union shall notify the Human Resources Director or other authorized individual in writing of such designations and re-designations.
  • Reasonable paid release time and reasonable travel time for up to two (2) SEIU 521 Officers or their designee(s) shall be granted by the County to attend Board of Supervisors meetings subject to departmental approval. A written request for release time shall be made to the Human Resources Department within twenty-four (24) hours following the posting of the Board Agenda. Any denial of union release time must be made in writing with an explanation for the denial. The Union will be so notified and have the opportunity to discuss this matter with the Human Resources Director whose decision shall be final.

3.4       Leaves of Absence for Union Work

Leaves of absence to take employment with the Union signatory to this MOU shall be granted for a minimum of thirteen (13) full biweekly pay periods upon forty-five (45) days advanced written notice from the Union when feasible.

Employees are entitled to retain all seniority, pay and benefits while on a leave to work for the Union. While on such leave to work for the union, on a weekly basis, the Union or employee shall submit accurate accountings of hours worked according to the County’s payroll practices including any vacation, holiday or other paid time off used during that week. Employees will receive pay through the County process. The Union will be billed on a regular basis as determined by the Controller’s Office for all costs associated with the individual on leave, including the employer’s share of all pay, benefits and retirement contributions. The Union will reimburse the County in full within thirty (30) calendar days of receipt of each bill. The County shall provide the Union and the employee with a minimum of thirty (30) days’ notice before ceasing payment. If the Union fails to make payment within that time, future payments, benefits and retirement contributions to the employee will cease.

In the event the employee is in a business critical position, or based on the number of employees currently released to work for the union a hardship is created for the County to conduct regular business, a discussion will occur between the Union and the Department Head(s) regarding the feasibility of the release. (i.e.: if the request were to release the only payroll specialist in a department, it may not be feasible to release that person with only forty-five (45) days-notice; or, if the request were for an individual for whom we claim Federal funding and the County would suffer that loss of revenue)

Denials will be provided in writing including the reason for the denial. Denials may be appealed to the Human Resources Director whose decision shall be final.

Every reasonable effort will be made to return the employee to their prior assignment, work location and shift upon return from this leave of absence; however the County cannot guarantee the availability of that assignment, work location or shift.