WSR 97-22-005

PROGRESS REPORT

PUBLIC EMPLOYMENT

RELATIONS COMMISSION

[Filed October 24, 1997, 11:05 a.m.]

Reviser's note: The following Progress Report has been electronically generated directly from the agency and has not been through the usual editing and proofing processes.

October 14, 1997

EO 97-02 PROGRESS REPORT

of the

PUBLIC EMPLOYMENT RELATIONS COMMISSION

The Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC) has begun a four-year effort to review all of its rules. PERC is committed to improving the effectiveness and fairness of its regulatory process. Over its 21+ years in existence, PERC has adopted several chapters of rules that are primarily "procedural" in nature. The following seven chapters in the Washington Administrative Code (WAC) are currently in effect:

Chapter 391-08 WAC RULES OF PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE

Chapter 391-25 WAC REPRESENTATION CASE RULES

Chapter 391-35 WAC UNIT CLARIFICATION CASE RULES

Chapter 391-45 WAC UNFAIR LABOR PRACTICE CASE RULES

Chapter 391-55 WAC IMPASSE RESOLUTION RULES

Chapter 391-65 WAC GRIEVANCE ARBITRATION RULES

Chapter 391-95 WAC UNION SECURITY DISPUTE RULES

Adjudicative proceedings conducted by PERC under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) are also subject to the Model Rules of Procedure, Chapter 10-08 WAC, adopted by the chief administrative law judge of the State of Washington. The Commission's goal is to ensure that all of its rules meet the EO 97-02 standards of need, reasonableness, effectiveness, clarity, fairness, stakeholder involvement, coordination among regulatory agencies, and consistency with legislative intent and statutory authority.

RULES COORDINATOR

On July 16, 1997, the Commission designated staff member Mark S. Downing as the agency's contact person for regulatory review.

RULES REVIEW PLAN

After a tentative rules review plan was drafted by Commission staff, a letter was sent on August 6, 1997 to the agency's "major stakeholders" seeking their input and comments regarding the plan. Out of approximately 100 union and employer representatives who received that letter, comments were received from only seven individuals.

On August 26, 1997, PERC filed its rules review plan with the Office of the Governor. PERC's rules review plan contains the following elements:

a. Time Schedule

PERC's rules will be reviewed in sub-groups over a four-year cycle, as follows:

Chapter 391-08 WAC in 1998

Chapters 391-55 and 391-65 WAC in 1999

Chapters 391-45 and 391-95 WAC in 2000

Chapters 391-25 and 391-35 WAC in 2001

b. Review Methodology

In the autumn of each year, the PERC staff will review the WAC chapter(s) under scrutiny that year for conformance with the review criteria of EO 97-02, and will transmit a report of problem areas and recommendations to the Commission. The Commission will submit its findings and suggested rule changes to the agency's major stakeholders by February, and invite comment. Any rules changes being recommended for adoption will be explained at conferences and similar forums (e.g., at the annual IRRA/FMCS/PERC conference held in Seattle each March, and other conferences, as appropriate).

The Commission's staff has begun its review of Chapter 391-08 WAC. A workshop on rules is being scheduled for March 12, 1998, as part of the annual conference co-sponsored by the agency. Any suggested changes in Chapter 391-08 WAC will be reviewed at that time.

c. Public Participation in Review Process

Agency clientele are encouraged to participate in the various stages of the review process established under b., above. Additional proposals and comments from clientele are welcome.

d. Resources Required to Amend Rules

Proposed rule changes will be the subject of public rule adoption hearings, as required by the APA. PERC will undertake its rule review plan and meet APA requirements within the constraints of its existing budget(s).

e. Exceptions to Review Requirements

PERC is unaware of any instances where it will require an exception to the regulatory review requirements.

f. On-going Review Process

After completion of the initial four-year rules review process, the foregoing rule review schedule could be repeated in similar four-year cycles (subject to input from major stakeholders about the effectiveness of such a process).

TANGIBLE ACCOMPLISHMENTS

While PERC's first rules review process (relating to Chapter 391-08 WAC) will not be completed until August 1, 1998, the Commission recently completed an extensive effort to make its processes more user-friendly:

In 1995 and 1996, PERC reviewed all of its rules and made extensive revisions. (PERC's only previous comprehensive rules review was in 1980.)

Rule changes were adopted in February of 1996 (effective in April of 1996) to correct typographical errors, use gender-neutral language, conform rules to statutes, clarify and update agency procedures, and codify case precedents. In total, 50 sections of agency rules were amended, three new sections were added, and two sections were repealed. The following are examples of some of the changes made in 1996 to clarify, streamline or reform agency procedures:

1) Long-standing case precedents were codified in areas such as directions of cross-checks, objectionable election conduct, procedures for classified employees of institutions of higher education to become covered under PERC jurisdiction, bargaining unit structures for school district extra-curricular activities positions, and bargaining unit structures for employees eligible for interest arbitration.

2) Streamlined agency procedures for processing representation petitions, and designated elections coordinator as responsible for preliminary processing of representation cases.

3) Reduced, in most situations, the number of copies of forms that clientele need to file with agency.

4) Clarified procedures for filing of documents with agency and for service of papers on other parties. (A prohibition on filing by "fax" in adjudicative proceedings under the APA was continued in effect only so long as actual receipt is required by the APA and Chapter 10-08 WAC.)

5) Added new sections explaining agency procedures for docketing and numbering cases, numbering and indexing of decisions, and citation of cases.

In 1996, PERC developed and implemented a WEB site (http://www.olywa.net/perc) which contains copies of all of the statutes and rules administered by PERC, as well as information regarding case processing, directions to agency offices, telephone numbers for all PERC staff members, and the "fax" numbers for both PERC offices. Clientele can now send "e-mail" to PERC, to communicate their thoughts on our procedures.

In 1996, PERC published a booklet containing all of the statutes and rules administered by PERC. The booklet includes directions and maps to both PERC offices (located in Olympia and Kirkland), the names and telephone numbers of all PERC staff members, and brief summaries of the procedures for case processing.

PERC has not received any petitions filed under RCW 34.05.330 by persons requesting the adoption, amendment, or repeal of any rule.

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