Los Angeles County Firefighters Local 1 v. City of Monrovia, AFL-CIO

Decision Date22 March 1972
Docket NumberAFL-CIO
Citation101 Cal.Rptr. 78,24 Cal.App.3d 289
CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
Parties, 80 L.R.R.M. (BNA) 2648, 68 Lab.Cas. P 52,801 LOS ANGELES COUNTY FIREFIGHTERS LOCAL 1014,, a non-profit corporation, Petitioner and Respondent, v. CITY OF MONROVIA, municipal corporation, Defendant and Appellant. Civ. 38648.

Hill, Farrer & Burrill, and Edwin H. Franzen, Stanley E. Tobin, Jack R. White and Kyle D. Brown, Los Angeles, and Paul E. Garber, City Atty., for defendant and appellant.

Bodle, Fogel, Julber & Reinhardt, and Loren R. Rothschild and Joel N. Klevens, Los Angeles, for petitioner and respondent.

SCHWEITZER, Acting Presiding Justice.

This case presents the question of whether a city which recognizes its employees association as 'the only organized group who can speak on behalf . . . of City employees' in their employment relations must recognize an outside union as the representative of those employees who are members thereof.

Facts

Since 1953 the employees of the City of Monrovia have been represented in their employment relations with the city by the Monrovia Municipal Employees Association. The association has a written constitution and by-laws; its membership is open on a voluntary basis to all employees of the city; and it is governed by an elected board of directors, a specified number of which must be from each department of the city. The procedure employed by the city in handling employment relations has been that during March and April of each year the association would appoint representatives from each department of the city to confer with representatives of the city on wages, salaries, hours and working conditions on behalf of the employees of their respective departments; the results of these conferences were then reported to the city council; after review thereof and public hearings thereon the city council by resolution would determine the wages and working conditions of each employee for the following fiscal year.

By resolution dated March 21, 1961 the city council codified portions of the foregoing procedure and policy in its Administrative Manual of Policies and Procedures, providing therein that: '. . . The Council . . ., in all matters affecting the discussion and negotiation of wages and salaries, Recognizes the Monrovia Municipal Employees Association as the only organized group who can speak on behalf of the interests of the greatest number of City employees.' (Italics added.)

In May 1970 the president of plaintiff union notified the city by letter that the union represents a majority of the employees of the Monrovia Fire Department, and that the union 'requests recognition as the representative of the employees of the Monrovia Fire Department for the purposes of presenting grievances and recommendations regarding wages, salaries, hours and working conditions to the City Council and to discuss the same with the City Council.' (Italics added.) The record discloses that 20 of the 21 city firefighters were members of and desired that the union be recognized as their representative.

The city council took the request under submission. Thereafter, without formally recognizing the union, the city permitted union representatives to participate in salary and wage discussions. Before decisive action by the city on the union's request for formal recognition, the union filed the instant proceeding, a petition for writ of mandate seeking to compel the city: (1) to recognize the union as the representative of the members of the union employed by the city's fire department; (2) to recognize the union as a 'recognized employee organization' within the meaning of the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act (Gov.Code, §§ 3500--3510 1); and (3) to meet and confer in good faith with representatives of the union with respect to wages, hours and other terms and conditions of employment of the firefighters of the city who are members of the union.

In seeking the writ of mandate the union relied on two statutes, the Firefighters Act (Lab.Code, §§ 1960--1963) and the aforementioned Meyers-Milias-Brown Act. (Gov.Code, §§ 3500--3510 2.) The sole evidence presented at trial consisted of the declarations of the parties together with attached exhibits. After trial findings of fact and conclusions of law were signed and judgment entered granting a peremptory writ of mandate as prayed, the court expressly stating in its conclusions of law that the union was entitled to the relief under the two cited statutes. The city appeals from the judgment.

The Firefighters Act

Section 1960 of the Labor Code provides that no incorporated city 'shall prohibit, deny or obstruct the right of firefighters to join any bona fide labor organization of their own choice.'

Section 1962 provides that '(e)mployees shall have the right to self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to present grievances and recommendations regarding wages, salaries, hours, and working conditions to the governing body, and to discuss the same with such governing body, through such an organization . . .'

The Firefighters Act clearly places the city under an obligation to permit its firefighters to join a union, to refrain from interfering with the union in its activities on behalf of the city employees who are members thereof, and to consider grievances and recommendations submitted by the union on behalf of such employees. (See International Assn. of Fire Fighters v. City of Palo Alto, 60 Cal.2d 295, 300, 32 Cal.Rptr. 842, 384 P.2d 170.) So long as the city extends these rights to its employees and the union, the Firefighters Act is not violated.

As heretofore noted, the city's administrative manual contains a statement of policy providing that the city 'recognizes the . . . Employees Association as the Only organized group who can speak on behalf' of its employees. (Italics added.) The city points to evidence that notwithstanding this stated policy, it maintained an 'open door policy' to all employees and employee organizations, including the plaintiff union, to present grievances and to make recommendations regarding wages, salaries, hours and working conditions, and argues that as a result it is meeting its obligations under the Firefighters Act.

The union offered evidence that this informal policy of recognition was not followed and the court so found. This finding of fact is binding on appeal even though the evidence in support thereof is entirely documentary. (Griffith Co. v. San Diego Col. for Women, 45 Cal.2d 501, 507--508, 289 P.2d 476.) But regardless of this conflict in evidence and the finding of the trial court thereon, we hold that under the facts of this case the quoted policy from the city's administrative manual, even though not strictly adhered to, as contended by the city, conflicts with the Firefighters Act. It relegates the union to a secondary position in bargaining which conceivably would reduce its effectiveness. As a result we hold that the following conclusions of law, as modified by words in brackets, are correct:

'3. The Union was entitled to request, under Labor Code, Sections 1960 through 1963, that the City recognize the Union as the representative of (those) firefighters (who are members of the union), and that it permit (said) firefighters, through the Union, to present grievances and recommendations regarding wages, salaries, hours, and working conditions to, and to discuss the same with, the Council; and the Union was entitled to have such request granted by the City.

'4. The Union is entitled to recognition by the City as the bona fide labor organization of the firefighter's choice under Labor Code, Sections 1960 through 1963.

'5. The City has a duty to recognize the Union under Labor Code, Sections 1960 through 1963.'

These conclusions of law as modified are consistent with the judgment and the peremptory writ of mandate issued pursuant thereto.

The Meyers-Milias-Brown Act

In 1961 the Legislature enacted the Brown Act (Giv.Code, §§ 3500--3509, effective September 15, 1961), under which it recognized the right of public employees to join organizations of their own choice and to be...

To continue reading

Request your trial
15 cases
  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers v. City of Gridley
    • United States
    • California Supreme Court
    • August 1, 1983
    ...and the employee organization, are supplied by the appropriate provisions of the act." (Los Angeles County Firefighters Local 1014 v. City of Monrovia (1972) 24 Cal.App.3d 289, 295, 101 Cal.Rptr. 78, quoted in Huntington Beach Police Officers' Assn. v. City of Huntington Beach (1976) 58 Cal......
  • Vernon Fire Fighters v. City of Vernon
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • June 30, 1980
    ...v. City of Huntington Beach (1967) 58 Cal.App.3d 492, 502, 129 Cal.Rptr. 893.) And in Los Angeles County Firefighters Local 1014 v. City of Monrovia (1972) 24 Cal.App.3d 289, 295, 101 Cal.Rptr. 78, 82, the court concluded that "if the (employer-employee relations) rules and regulations of a......
  • Crowley v. City and County of San Francisco
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • December 2, 1976
    ...once adopted by the governing body of a public agency, is binding upon the agency. In Los Angeles County Firefighters Local 1014 v. City of Monrovia (1972) 24 Cal.App.3d 289, 294--295, 101 Cal.Rptr. 78, the court stated: 'The city contends that (section 3500 of the act) specifically exempts......
  • San Francisco Fire Fighters v. Board of Supervisors, AFL-CI
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • August 30, 1979
    ...Assn. v. City and Huntington Beach, 58 Cal.App.3d 492, 502, 129 Cal.Rptr. 893, 900; Los Angeles County Firefighters Local 1014 v. City of Monrovia, 24 Cal.App.3d 289, 295, 101 Cal.Rptr. 78.) It is observed also, that the guideline case of Los Angeles County Civil Service Com. v. Superior Co......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT