275 N.W.2d 753 (Iowa 1979), 61657, City of Des Moines v. Public Employment Relations Bd.

Docket Nº:61657.
Citation:275 N.W.2d 753
Party Name:CITY OF DES MOINES, Iowa, Appellee, v. PUBLIC EMPLOYMENT RELATIONS BOARD, Appellant, and Des Moines Association of Professional Fire Fighters, Intervenor.
Case Date:February 21, 1979
Court:Supreme Court of Iowa
 
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Page 753

275 N.W.2d 753 (Iowa 1979)

CITY OF DES MOINES, Iowa, Appellee,

v.

PUBLIC EMPLOYMENT RELATIONS BOARD, Appellant,

and

Des Moines Association of Professional Fire Fighters, Intervenor.

No. 61657.

Supreme Court of Iowa.

February 21, 1979

Page 754

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 755

Richard C. Turner, Atty. Gen., Carlton G. Salmons, Asst. Atty. Gen., and Nancy D. Powers, Public Employment Relations Board, Des Moines, for appellant.

John R. Phillips, Russell L. Samson and David H. Goldman, of Rogers, Phillips & Swanger, Des Moines, for appellee.

Harry H. Smith, of Smith & Smith, Sioux City, for intervenor.

William F. Sueppel, of Meardon, Sueppel, Downer & Hayes, Iowa City, for amicus curiae League of Iowa Municipalities.

Charles E. Gribble, of Dreher, Wilson, Adams & Jensen, Des Moines, for amicus curiae Iowa State Education Association.

Considered by REYNOLDSON, C. J., and LeGRAND, UHLENHOPP, HARRIS and ALLBEE, JJ.

ALLBEE, Justice.

The question presented is whether the Public Employment Relations Board has the statutory authority, under § 20.22, The Code, to order binding arbitration between a public employer and a certified employee organization under these conditions: (1) the public employer is a political subdivision of the state; (2) the public employer's certified budget submission date will pass before completion of such arbitration; and (3) the public employer has not joined in the request for arbitration.

This appeal arises out of the following events. The City of Des Moines filed a petition with the Board for declaratory ruling on June 17, 1977. That petition presented these facts, upon which the Board was to base its ruling:

  1. A municipal corporation, a public employer within the meaning of Section 3(1) of the Iowa Public Employment Relations Act, and an employee organization within the meaning of Section 3(4) of that Act, commenced negotiating in advance of the public employer's certified budget submission date and have negotiated in good faith as required by Section 9 of the Act.

  2. The public employer and the employee organization have not agreed upon any impasse procedures during their negotiations within the meaning of Section 19 of the Act, and therefore the impasse procedures provided in Sections 20, 21 and 22 of the Act are applicable.

  3. One of the two parties, on a date less than 120 days prior to the certified budget submission date of the public employer, requests the appointment of an impartial or disinterested person to act as mediator, as provided by Section 20 of the Act, and such a mediator is appointed by the Public Employment Relations Board.

    Page 756

  4. The mediation procedure set forth in Section 20 of the Act fails to result in an agreement between the parties.

  5. Pursuant to Section 21 of the Act, the Public Employment Relations Board appoints a fact-finder representative of the public. The written findings of fact and recommendations are issued and served upon the public employer and the certified employee organization on a date which is later than five days prior to March 15, the certified budget submission date of the public employer.

  6. The impasse is not resolved within 10 days after the fact-finder's written report is submitted (that is, at a point in time after the certified budget submission date of the public employer), and the report is made public by the Public Employment Relations Board.

  7. The impasse is not resolved after this publication of the fact-finder's written report.

  8. The certified employee organization unilaterally requests the Public Employment Relations Board to arrange for binding arbitration pursuant to Section 22 of the Act, after March 15 the certified budget submission date of the public employer.

  9. Pursuant to the provisions of, and the strictures of, Chapter 24 and Chapter 384, Code of Iowa (1977), the public employer has as of the date of the request finally adopted a budget which contains a specific dollar amount as an appropriation for the particular program (with specified purposes) for the public employees represented by the employee organization.

    The city then posed several specific questions upon which it desired the Board's opinion. The dispute at this juncture is centered on the city's first question:

  10. Whether the Public Employment Relations Board, in light of the timetables and the legislative scheme for the resolution of negotiations impasses contained in Sections 19, 20, 21 and 22 of the Public Employment Relations Act and consonant therewith, has the jurisdiction or the statutory authority to consider a request to arrange binding arbitration filed by a certified employee organization after the certified budget submission date of the public employer, if the public employer with which that employee organization is negotiating has not joined in the request?

    The Des Moines Association of Professional Fire Fighters petitioned for intervention, alleging that it could be adversely affected by the ruling which the city sought. The Board permitted the intervention and thereafter issued its declaratory ruling on August 23. In that ruling the Board held that the Public Employment Relations Act (chapter 20, The Code) imposed no deadline for the completion of binding arbitration undertaken in compliance with §§ 20.20-. 22. The city then petitioned the district court for judicial review. In a carefully considered opinion the district court disagreed with the Board's interpretation of the statute. It found that the legislative intent was to require completion of arbitration prior to the certified budget submission date for political subdivisions, which is March 15. Section 24.17, The Code. We find ourselves in agreement with the district court's position and affirm.

    Certain highlights in the history of the Public Employment Relations Act and the Board's construction of that Act are relevant to our inquiry. The Act was passed in 1974 by the 65th General Assembly. Chapter 1095, § 29 of the Acts of the 65th General Assembly declared that the provisions relating to the duty to bargain would become effective on July 1, 1975. Collective bargaining between the state (as distinguished from its political subdivisions) and its employees was not to begin until June 1, 1976.

    The Act prohibits strikes by public employees, § 20.12, The Code, replacing this economic weapon with a statutory impasse procedure. That procedure consists of three steps: mediation, fact-finding, and binding arbitration. See §§ 20.20-.22, The Code; Pope, Analysis of the Iowa Public Employment Relations Act, 24 Drake L.Rev. 1, 35-41 (1974) (hereinafter cited as Pope ).

    Page 757

    On November 14, 1975, the Board issued the first in a series of rulings considering the question of whether statutory impasse procedures under §§ 20.20-.22, may be conducted subsequent to March 15. In Belmond Community School District, PERB Case No. 558 (1975), the Board issued a declaratory ruling holding that in light of the "significant correlation between collective bargaining and the process of budget compilation, approval and certification," the legislature intended that March 15 would be a deadline. The decision was issued prospectively to provide guidance in implementation of impasse procedures in the first year of collective bargaining. The Board expressed some concern, however, that the statutory scheme might not...

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