Friday, October 10, 2014

Court of Appeal Publishes Indio Opinion After Requests Filed by PORAC LDF, Upland POA

The California Court of Appeal issued an order directing the publication of its earlier case Indio Police Command Unit Association v. City of Indio. As previously noted on this blog, in that case the court upheld an award of attorney's fees based on the injunction noting that the association's lawsuit enforced an important public interest.

Regarding the labor relations issue, the Court of Appeal held that the City violated its meet and confer obligations under the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act (MMBA). The police chief advised the PCU's counsel of his intention to implement a "strategic reorganization" plan of the department's command structure, which would eliminate the captain and four lieutenant positions, and result in the demotion of certain PCU members and the layoff of one PCU member. The police chief then asserted that he could implement this reorganization plan without providing an opportunity to bargain.

The Court of Appeal rejected the City's argument. Generally, an employer's action is subject to the mandatory bargaining requirements of the MMBA if it will have a significant effect on wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment, including a permanent transfer of work away from a bargaining unit. Here, the City plan would eliminate certain positions represented by the PCU, demote some of the officers, resulting in the loss of wages and seniority, and layoff at least one PCU member. The plan, therefore, would have a significant impact on wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment and the City had an obligation under the MMBA to meet and confer over it.

Originally the case was unpublished, meaning that no other party could cite to it as support for their legal arguments. However, recognizing the importance of this case to public safety labor associations, PORAC LDF and the Upland POA filed requests that the court publish its decision. On October 9, 2014 the court granted that petition allowing all attorneys to rely on this strong precedent to enforce the rights of public service employees.  Mastagni Holstedt attorney Jeffrey R. A. Edwards filed the request on behalf of PORAC LDF. Upland POA President Moe Duran filed the request on behalf of Upland POA.