Bagley v. City of Manhattan Beach

Decision Date16 September 1976
Citation132 Cal.Rptr. 668,553 P.2d 1140,18 Cal.3d 22
Parties, 553 P.2d 1140, 93 L.R.R.M. (BNA) 2435, 79 Lab.Cas. P 53,874 Barry BAGLEY et al., Plaintiffs and Appellants, v. CITY OF MANHATTAN BEACH et al., Defendants and Respondents. L.A. 30523.
CourtCalifornia Supreme Court

Stephen Warren Solomon, Carole A. Heller Solomon, Brundage, Reich & Pappy and Dennis M. Harley, Los Angeles, for plaintiffs and appellants.

Davis, Cowell & Bowe, Philip Paul Bowe and Richard G. McCracken, San Francisco, as amici curiae on behalf of plaintiffs and appellants.

Carl K. Newton, City Atty., Burke, Williams & Sorensen and Mark C. Allen, Jr., Los Angeles, for defendants and respondents.

Thomas M. O'Connor, City Atty. (City and County of San Francisco), Milton H. Mares, Deputy City Atty., C. Samuel Blick, City Atty. (Escondido), Donald H. Maynor, Deputy City Atty., Paul B. Pressman, City Atty. (Vista), Barbara A. Platt, Mark C. Allen, Jr., City Atty. (El Segundo), and Paul A. Geihs, City Atty. (Pismo Beach), as amici curiae on behalf of defendants and respondents.

CLARK, Justice.

After the City Council of the City of Manhattan Beach refused to place an initiative measure on the ballot, petitioners sought a writ of mandate to compel the council to do so. The trial court denied relief, and petitioners appeal.

The proposed initiative measure provides that unresolved disputes between the city and the recognized firemen's employee organization shall be submitted to arbitration and that the arbitrator's award shall be final and binding. The arbitration requirement applies not only to unresolved disputes pertaining to the interpretation or application of contracts but also to all disputes as to wages, hours, and terms of employment.

Denying the writ, the superior court concluded the proposed measure is invalid because (1) the Legislature placed the power to determine salaries in a general law city in the city council, precluding delegation to an arbitrator and (2) there are no safeguards in the proposed initiative to prevent abuse of the arbitrator's power. We affirm the judgment on the first ground, finding it unnecessary to reach the second.

Government Code section 36506, dealing with general law cities, provides: 'By resolution or ordinance, the city council shall fix the compensation of all appointive officers and employees.'

The language in the statute is clear. It requires compensation be fixed by the city council by ordinance or resolution; the language does not permit fixing of compensation by administrative order or by arbitrator's award.

When the Legislature has made clear its intent that one public body or official is to exercise a specified discretionary power, the power is in the nature of a public trust and may not be exercised by others in the absence of statutory authorization. (City and County of San Francisco v. Cooper (1975) 13 Cal.3d 898, 923--924, 120 Cal.Rptr. 707, 534 P.2d 403; California Sch. Employees Assn. v. Personnel Commission (1970) 3 Cal.3d 139, 144, 89 Cal.Rptr. 620, 474 P.2d 436.)

Although standards might be established governing the fixing of compensa tion and the city council might delegate functions relating to the application of those standards, the ultimate act of applying the standards and of fixing compensation is legislative in character, invoking the discretion of the council. (City and County of San Francisco v. Cooper, supra, 13 Cal.3d 898, 919--921, 120 Cal.Rptr. 707, 534 P.2d 403; Walker v. County of Los Angeles (1961) 55 Cal.2d 626, 634, 637, 12 Cal.Rptr. 671, 361 P.2d 247; City and County of S.F. v. Boyd (1943) 22 Cal.2d 685, 689--690, 140 P.2d 666; Alameda County Employees' Assn. v. County of Alameda (1973) 30 Cal.App.3d 518, 532, 106 Cal.Rptr. 441; Collins v. City & County of S.F. (1952) 112 Cal.App.2d 719, 730--731, 247 P.2d 362; Spencer v. City of Alhambra (1941) 44 Cal.App.2d 75, 77, 111 P.2d 910.) As such, and because the language of the statute is not merely clear, but redundant (cf. Geiger v. Board of Supervisors (1957) 48 Cal.2d 832, 838, 313 P.2d 545), the city council may not delegate its power and duty to fix compensation.

Examination of the history of other legislation relating to general law city employees confirms that we should apply the plain language of Government Code section 36506 literally. The Meyers-Milias-Brown Act (Gov.Code, §§ 3500--3510), which applies to local government employees and deals with public employee organizations and labor relations, seeks to provide 'a reasonable method of resolving disputes regarding wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment between public employers and public employee organizations.' (Gov.Code, § 3500.) Although there is provision for a written memorandum of understanding by employee organizations and Representatives of a negotiating public agency, the act expressly provides that the memorandum 'shall not be binding' but shall be presented to the governing body of the agency or its statutory representative for determination, thus reflecting the legislative decision that the ultimate determinations are to be made by the governing body itself or its statutory representative and not by others. (Gov.Code, § 3505.1; see City and County of San Francisco v. Cooper, supra, 13 Cal.3d 898, 926--928, 120 Cal.Rptr. 707, 534 P.2d 403 (under the Winton Act involving school labor relations, written memorandum of understanding is not binding, the school board retaining ultimate authority).)

Moreover, the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act provides for negotiation and Permits the local agency and the employee organization to agree to mediation but not to fact-finding or binding arbitration. (Gov.Code, §§ 3505, 3 505.2; Fire Fighters Union v. City of Vallejo (1974) 12 Cal.3d 608, 614, fn. 4, 116 Cal.Rptr. 507, 526 P.2d 971; Alameda County Employees' Assn. v. Alameda County, supra, 30 Cal.App.3d 518, 533--534, 106 Cal.Rptr. 441.) Similarly, Labor Code sections 1960--1963 permit fire-fighters to form unions and to present grievances but do not authorize arbitration.

Probably no issue in recent years has been presented to the Legislature more frequently than proposed arbitration of public employee salaries, including firemen's. (Assem. Bill Nos. 1781, 1724, 119, 86 (1975--1976 Reg. Sess.); Sen. Bill Nos. 1310, 1294, 275, 4 (1975--1976 Reg. Sess.); Assem. Bill. Nos. 3666, 1243, 33 (1973--1974 Reg. Sess.); Sen. Bill No. 32 (1973--1974 Reg. Sess.); Sen. Bill Nos. 1440, 1424 (1972 Reg. Sess.); Sen. Bill No. 333 (1971 Reg. Sess.); Assem. Bill No. 98 (1970 Reg. Sess.); Sen. Bill Nos. 1294, 1293 (1970 Reg. Sess.); Assem. Bill No. 1400 (1969 Reg. Sess.); Assem. Bill No. 1935 (1967 Reg. Sess.); Assem. Bill Nos. 3084, 2500 (1963 Reg. Sess.).) But no such bill has become law.

Petitioner's reliance on Kugler v. Yokum (1968), 69 Cal.2d 371, 71 Cal.Rptr. 687, 445 P.2d 303, is misplaced. The case involved the sufficiency of standards necessary to a valid delegation of legislative power in the absence of statutes demonstrating an intent that the power be exercised by a specific legislative body. Here legislative intent limiting delegability is clear.

The language of Government Code section 36506, the provisions of the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act, and the Legislature's repeated refusal to enact any law permitting general law cities to fix salaries by arbitration compel the conclusion that the Legislature intends the city council of a general law city to fix compensation, precluding the fixing of compensation by arbitrator.

It has long been settled that a city ordinance proposed by initiative 'must constitute such legislation as the legislative body of such . . . city has the power to enact under the law granting, defining and limiting the powers of such body. (Citations.)' (Hurst v. City of Burlingame (1929) 207 Cal. 134, 140, 277 P. 308, 311.) The city possessing no power under existing state statute to provide for arbitration of wage rates, such power cannot be created by local initiative. 1

The judgment is affirmed.


MOSK, Justice (dissenting).

I dissent. Under the principles enunciated by this court in Kugler v. Yocum (1968), 69 Cal.2d 371, 71 Cal.Rptr. 687, 445 P.2d 303, the proposed initiative should not be banned, as an improper delegation of power, from consideration by the electorate.

In divining a legislative intent to preclude the local use of arbitration for resolution of labor disputes, the majority appear to employ two theories. First, they seem to conclude that whenever a discretionary power is granted to one body, any infringement on that authority of whatever extent or effect, is per se an improper delegation of power. (Ante, p. 669 of 132 Cal.Rptr. p. 1141 of 553 P.2d.) Second, in the majority view, the Legislature has expressly voiced hostility to any arbitration ordinance. The former conclusion is incorrect under relevant case law, the latter as a matter of statutory interpretation.

As for the first rationale, the majority position is contradicted by Kugler v. Yocum, supra, in which we upheld a proposed ordinance decreeing that the salaries of Alhambra firefighters shall be no less than the average wage of firefighters employed by the City of Los Angeles and those working for Los Angeles County. The majority vainly attempt to distinguish Kugler because it involved a chartered city and thus was decided 'in the absence of statutes demonstrating an intent that the power be exercised by a specific legislative body.' (Ante, p. 670 of 132 Cal.Rptr., p. 1142 of 553 P.2d.)

On the contrary, at the time of the proposed ordinance in Kugler, the Alhambra city charter provided, in a manner similar to Government Code section 36506, on which the majority rely, that 'The (city) council . . . shall have power to organize the fire division and . . . establish the number of its members and the amount of their salaries . . ..' (Kugler, supra, 69 Cal.2d at p....

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    • November 23, 2016 additional procedure for resolution of disputes under section 3507. The City argues that Bagley v . City of Manhattan Beach (1976) 18 Cal.3d 22, 132 Cal.Rptr. 668, 553 P.2d 1140 confirms that it cannot. The City relies on a statement from Bagley , where the court commented that "the Meye......
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