It is the Department of General Services (DGS) policy to ensure customer service needs are met by providing efficient and timely labor relations services and facilitating a cooperative relationship between management, employees, and the unions.

The Dills Act, formerly known as the State Employer-Employee Relations Act (SEERA) established a process for the state to develop labor contracts with its employees for wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment. Two entities administer the Dills Act:

  1. Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) placed employees in 21 different bargaining units and has ongoing oversight, and
  2. Department of California Human Resources (CalHR) performs negotiations with the employee unions and with “non-unit” (often referred to as “excluded”) managers, supervisors and confidentials.

The Labor Relations Office (LRO):

  • represents DGS' Director on various bargaining teams (many teams include CalHR, DGS, and other agencies);
  • assists in policy development for matters that affect employee working conditions;
  • advises DGS management on how to interpret labor contracts, and
  • investigates and responds to grievances and unfair labor practices.

The Classification and Pay Analyst may be the first line of contact for clients seeking advice and/or assistance on the following:

  • Performance Issues: Refer client to the Constructive Intervention Unit.
  • Layoff Process
  • Contract Language Interpretation: Refer client to LRO.
  • Grievances: The C&P Analyst will respond to an out-of-class grievance filed by a rank and file employee. The LRO may be contacted for assistance.
  • Complaints: Refer to grievances or see explanation under LRO purview.

services and subjects under lro purview

The following is a list of services and subjects under LRO purview:

Contract Language Interpretation Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)

  • Contact the LRO for interpretation of contract language.

Contract Negotiations Process/Procedures

  • The CalHR, the chief negotiator, represents the Governor.
  • DGS Offices have input, through LRO, in developing or modifying contract terms. This process is initiated by the CalHR’s “harvest memo".

Dills Act

  • The statute, originally enacted in July 1978, was formerly known as SEERA.
  • Authorizes processes for determining the wages, hours, and terms and conditions of employment for rank-and-file and supervisory employees in the California State Civil Service.
  • Establishes PERB to oversee and administer the provisions of the Act.

Employee Grievances/Complaints

  • A grievance is a dispute between the State and the Union, or one or more employees, involving the interpretation, application, or enforcement of the express terms of their agreement.
  • An out-of-class grievance is a complaint by an employee that they are performing the majority of duties of a different classification or level.
  • A complaint is a dispute involving the application or interpretation of a written rule or policy not covered by an agreement and not under the jurisdiction of the SPB.
  • A health and safety grievance is an expedited procedure to resolve a belief by the employee that they are being required to work where a clear and present danger exists.
  • The supervisor is the first level of review except for out-of-class grievances (these grievances go directly to LRO).
  • The Office Chief, or his/her designee is the first level of review for all issues except out-of-class.
  • LRO investigates and prepares the second level response on behalf of the Deputy Director.
  • In most cases, CalHR is the third level of review; however, this varies by bargaining unit.
  • Arbitration is the last step in the grievance procedure:
    1. A third party determines if the State’s actions complied with the specific language in the MOU or followed past practices.
    2. Arbitration is binding on both parties.
    3. The costs are paid by the DGS Office where the issue originated.

Employee Representation Rights

  • Employee has the right of representation to file grievances, and when they meet with supervisors for performance discussions that may lead to disciplinary action.
  • Employee does not have the right to representation for routine performance evaluations/discussions if adverse action is not being considered.

Employee Time Off for Union Business

  • Employee shall be entitled to reasonable time off to confer with a Union representative on representational matters.
  • Employee must have supervisor’s prior approval.


  • Notifies Union and offers to meet and discuss/confer regarding impact of layoff once DGS determines layoff is necessary.

Management Rights

  • Management determines the Department’s mission and takes all necessary and reasonable action to carry out the program mission.
  • Management has the right to hire, promote, transfer, or discipline employees subject to Departmental policies and MOU provisions.
  • Changes to policy and programs that affect the wages, hours or other terms and conditions of employment may require advance notice to the Union and meet and discuss/confer responsibilities prior to implementation (contact LRO prior to implementation).

Paid Union Leave

  • Paid Union leave requires advance approval by management and LRO. The Union reimburses the Department for the employee’s time while on union leave.

Past Practices

  • A past practice is defined as a course of action knowingly followed by the Union and the employer over an extended period of time which both parties have come to regard as the accepted practice.
  • A past practice may take precedence over a written policy if the practice is:
    1. consistent,
    2. uniform, and
    3. long term.
  • To change a past practice, contact LRO for advice prior to implementation.

Policy/Procedure Changes

  • Prior to implementation, check with LRO on notice and meet and confer requirements for new policies and procedures or when making changes to existing policies or procedures.

Steward/Union Representative Time Off

  • An employee shall be granted a reasonable amount of time to represent another employee in a grievance/complaint, discipline case, matter before the SPB, State Board of Control, PERB or on any matter regarding the administration of the MOU. Time off must have supervisor’s prior approval.
  • Check with LRO with questions concerning who a steward/union representative may represent on state time.
  • Union representatives may receive time off for involvement in contract negotiations, subject to negotiating ground rules.
  • See “Paid Union Leave".

Strike Contingency Plan (Job Actions)

  • It is the State’s position that it is illegal for California State employees to go on strike.
  • Each office must have a current strike contingency plan to be utilized in case of a job action.
  • Contact LRO immediately if a job action occurs, or if you have information that one may be planned.

Unfair Labor Practices

  • Unfair labor practices are violations of the Dills Act.
  • The State and the union may file unfair labor practice charges against the other party.
  • PERB has final authority over resolving unfair labor practice charges.
  • The costs of litigation for unfair labor practice charges are billed to the office where the issue arose.

Union Access

  • Requires advance approval by management.
  • Limited to pursuing representation issues, i.e., grievance representation, posting material on specified bulletin boards, etc.
  • See “Access", “Use of State Facilities", “Use of State Equipment", and “Distribution of Union Information” sections in the MOU.

Union Contracts

  • LRO represents the Director and DGS management on all labor relations issues.
  • The offices are to coordinate with LRO on all labor relations matters.

Union Literature Distribution

  • The employees, union steward, or union staff may distribute literature in non-work areas during non-work hours, but may not disrupt the work of others.
  • The union may post materials relating to union business on existing employee organization bulletin boards.
  • The union may not distribute literature in employee mailboxes or via email.

Union Rights (Exclusive Representative)

  • The union has the right to represent rank and file employees on issues related to wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment.

Use of State Facilities and Equipment

  • See “Access" section in the MOU.
  • Union stewards shall be permitted reasonable use of State phones to make calls for Union representation, provided that such use shall not incur extra charges to the State or interfere with program operations.
  • The use of State meeting facilities is provided subject to operational needs.

Work Scheduling

  • The Office Chief, or his/her designee, sets the work schedules.
  • The employee must receive advance notice (see MOU) of any change in hours or work days.

frequently asked questions

What is the Dills Act and who is covered?

The Dills Act, embodied in Government Code Sections 3512-3524 (originally called the State Employer-Employee Relations Act), was enacted in 1977 and formalized collective bargaining for State employees. The Act did the following:

  • Set up a process for determining wages, hours and terms and conditions of employment for rank and file and supervisory employees. Managers and confidential employees (as defined in Government Codes 3513, [e] and [f]) are provided no bargaining rights.
  • Rank and file employees have the right to:
    • Form, join, be represented by and participate in employee unions and the right to not join.

    • Meet and confer in good faith rights (full bargaining rights); both sides must exchange and fully consider all reasonable proposals with the hopes of reaching a final agreement.

  • Supervisors are provided representational rights but not full bargaining rights; they have the right to join unions and meet and discuss proposals with management. After considering union proposals and counterproposals management may implement a policy or course of action.

  • Set up the Public Employment Relations Board as the "watch dog" agency to oversee compliance with the provisions of the Dills Act.

What are the employee's rights to representation and do they get State release time?

The representational rights of employees will vary depending on the issue, and the bargaining unit the employee is assigned to. As a general rule, with prior supervisory approval, employees have the right to paid release time to be represented on issues involving work hours, wages, and other terms and conditions of employment. Additionally, job stewards are allowed reasonable time off, with prior approval, to represent an employee in accordance with the provisions of the MOU.

While employees do not have a legal right to representation for routine performance discussions, it is suggested they be allowed representation if they request it. If, however, adverse action is being considered, the employee must be allowed a representative to be present at the meeting. These rights are referred to as "Robinson Rights".

Neither employees or job stewards are allowed state paid release time to engage in union sponsored activities such as union rallies, membership drives, etc. Please refer to the "Guidelines for Grievance Handling" at the end of the page.

What is reasonable time off?

If an employee requests time off for representation purposes, the supervisor should evaluate the request based on operational needs. Based on those needs, the supervisor shall approve or deny the requested time off. The supervisor might consider allowing the time off before the lunch hour or at the end of the day to facilitate the employee have more time. Any questions concerning this should be discussed with the Labor Relations Office.

What are management's rights?

Management's rights are usually defined in the "State Rights" provisions of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). These provisions, which may be worded differently between MOUs, are consistent in their intent. Essentially, these rights allow departments to: determine its mission; consistent with the Civil Service Act to establish procedures and standards of selection for employment and promotion, lay off, assignment, scheduling and training; to determine the methods, means and personnel operations to be conducted. While management does have these rights, many actions require noticing and meeting with the unions on the impact of policy changes prior to implementation. Please contact the Labor Relations Office prior to making any program changes which may affect the hours, wages or other terms and conditions of employment.

What are the union's rights?

The primary rights of unions are to represent their members. The specifics of those rights, such as distribution of literature, access to the work site, the use of state phones, release time, etc., are detailed in the MOUs. Generally, unions have the right to:

  • Represent their members
  • Use state and/or union designated bulletin boards
  • Use other means of communication (during non-work hours and in non-work areas)
  • Worksite access (with advance approval of management)
  • Release time
  • Dues check off/fair share fees in specific MOUs

What is an unfair labor practice charge and who can file it?

An unfair labor practice charge may be filed by the employer, the employee, or the exclusive representative (the union). Generally, unfair labor practices include:

  • Attempts to, or cause the other party to commit an unfair labor practice
  • Interference
  • Discrimination/retaliation
  • Failure to participate in negotiations in good faith
  • Failure to participate in impasse procedure in good faith
  • Denial of rights

What is a past practice?

A "past practice" is the usual, customary way of administering a term or seniority or first-request-first-approved. The practice must be consistently applied over a period of time and be known and accepted by the employee (and/or union) and the employer. Changes to past practices require prior notice to the employees and/or the union and may require a meet and confer session. Contact the Labor Relations Office prior to implementing any changes to past practices.

Can an employee be required to work mandatory overtime?

Supervisors must be willing to consider a reasonable excuse for not working the overtime (i.e. same reasons for not working a regular shift). However, employees may be required to work overtime provided that the overtime is assigned in accordance with MOU provisions and past practice. If neither exists, overtime may be assigned if the three rules of reasonableness are followed:

  1. The work is of reasonable duration (with consideration to the employee's health, safety and endurance)
  2. There are reasonable circumstances requiring the overtime
  3. Reasonable notice is given

Contact the Labor Relations Office for guidance.

What are the rules regarding unions distributing and posting literature at the worksite?

These provisions are outlined in the MOUs. Ordinarily, unions have the right to distribute literature before or after work hours or during meal periods in non-work areas. They do not have the right to distribute materials in employee mailboxes unless this has been an agreed to practice. They may also use existing union bulletin boards to post materials. A copy of all materials that are posted must be provided to the office supervisor at the time of posting. Additionally, any literature posted or distributed on site will not be libelous, obscene, defamatory or of a partisan political nature.

What is a grievance and how do I respond to one?

A grievance is a dispute between one or more employees (usually between a rank and file employee and a supervisory employee), or a dispute between the State and the union, involving the interpretation, application, or enforcement of the terms of the negotiated MOU. The grievance procedure is outlined in the MOU and defines the levels of review and response as well as the timeframes. In the Department of General Services, the third level response is prepared by the Labor Relations Office and is signed by the designated deputy director. Contact the Labor Relations Office for assistance in responding to grievances.


Responsible Control Agencies

  • California Department of Human Resources
  • Public Employment Relations Board

Laws and Regulations

  • Government Code section 3512, 3525

Other Resource Materials


Labor Relations Office

Department of General Services
Office of Human Resources

707 3rd Street, 7th Floor
West Sacramento, CA 95605
Contact your assigned Labor Relations' Consultant.