City of Davenport v. Public Employment Relations Bd., No. 59399

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa
Writing for the CourtMcCORMICK; REYNOLDSON
Citation264 N.W.2d 307
Parties98 L.R.R.M. (BNA) 2582, 96 A.L.R.3d 698 CITY OF DAVENPORT, Iowa, a Municipal Corporation, Appellant, v. PUBLIC EMPLOYMENT RELATIONS BOARD, an agency of the State of Iowa, Appellee, v. DAVENPORT ASSOCIATION OF PROFESSIONAL FIREFIGHTERS, Intervenor-Appellee.
Docket NumberNo. 59399
Decision Date22 March 1978

Page 307

264 N.W.2d 307
98 L.R.R.M. (BNA) 2582, 96 A.L.R.3d 698
CITY OF DAVENPORT, Iowa, a Municipal Corporation, Appellant,
v.
PUBLIC EMPLOYMENT RELATIONS BOARD, an agency of the State of Iowa, Appellee,
v.
DAVENPORT ASSOCIATION OF PROFESSIONAL FIREFIGHTERS, Intervenor-Appellee.
No. 59399.
Supreme Court of Iowa.
March 22, 1978.

Page 310

William B. Waterman, Davenport, for appellant.

Marie Condon and John L. Ayers, Des Moines, for appellee PER Bd.

Harry Smith of Smith & Smith, Sioux City, and J. Hobart Darbyshire of Carlin & Darbyshire, Davenport, for intervenor-appellee.

Considered en banc.

McCORMICK, Justice.

In this case of first impression in Iowa we must decide whether the trial court erred in affirming an order of the Public Employment Relations Board (PER Board) placing line captains and lieutenants in the bargaining unit of the City of Davenport fire department. The City contends the captains and lieutenants should be barred from the bargaining unit because they are supervisory employees. The PER Board ruled they are not supervisory employees, and the trial court held the ruling is supported by substantial evidence and was not induced by legal error. We affirm.

The Public Employment Relations Act became effective July 1, 1974, establishing a duty of state political subdivision public employers to bargain with their employees as of July 1, 1975.

The statute defines collective bargaining rights of Iowa public employers and employees; it provides for elections on organizational issues; it outlaws strikes and provides procedures for resolving disputes; it creates a regulatory system; and it establishes a new agency, the PER Board, to administer the law.

Various categories of public employees are denied bargaining rights under the statute. Among those excluded are "(r)epresentatives of a public employer, including the administrative officer, director or chief executive officer of a public employer or major division thereof as well as his deputy, first assistant, and any supervisory employees." § 20.4(2), The Code, (emphasis supplied). The statute defines supervisory employee as follows:

Supervisory employee means any individual having authority in the interest of the public employer to hire, transfer, suspend, layoff, recall, promote, discharge, assign, reward or discipline other public employees, or the responsibility to direct them, or to adjust their grievances, or effectively to recommend such action, if in connection with the foregoing exercise of such authority is not of a merely routine or clerical nature, but requires the use of independent judgment. All school superintendents, assistant superintendents, principals and assistant principals shall be deemed to be supervisory employees. Id.

Pursuant to Code § 20.13, the Davenport Association of Professional Firefighters petitioned the PER Board in early 1975, seeking a determination of the appropriate bargaining

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unit in the Davenport fire department. After hearing evidence, the Board ruled in November 1975 that the bargaining unit would include all firefighters, engineers, alarm operators, the record clerk, line captains, and lieutenants. The City petitioned for review in district court, challenging the inclusion of line captains and lieutenants in the bargaining unit. The trial court affirmed, and this appeal by the City followed.

This appeal presents three main questions. What is the nature and scope of judicial review of PER Board bargaining unit determinations? What legal principles are applicable in deciding who are supervisory employees under the statute? Is the PER Board decision in this case supported by substantial evidence?

I. The nature and scope of judicial review. In the absence of a specific statutory provision to the contrary, judicial review of agency action is governed by the Administrative Procedure Act (IAPA), Code chapter 17A. § 17A.19, The Code. The IAPA applies here.

Only one ground for judicial relief under the IAPA is invoked by the City in this case. It provides a remedy when the substantial rights of the petitioner have been prejudiced in a contested case by agency action which is "unsupported by substantial evidence in the record made before the agency when that record is viewed as a whole". § 17A.19(8)(f). See Taylor v. Department of Transportation, 260 N.W.2d 521 (Iowa 1977). Review is at law, not de novo. Hoffman v. Department of Transportation, 257 N.W.2d 22, 25 (Iowa 1977).

The City contends the substantial evidence test under Code § 17A.19(8)(f) expands the court's duty beyond what it was when agency action was reviewed under prior practice in certiorari proceedings. This contention is based on the statutory language requiring the record to be viewed as a whole in applying the test. The City alleges only evidence supporting challenged agency action was required to be considered in certiorari cases. We do not find certiorari review of agency decisions has been so truncated.

Certiorari review to ascertain the reasonableness of agency findings has required consideration of the entire administrative hearing record. See, e. g., State ex rel. Employment Security Commission v. Merit Employment Commission, 231 N.W.2d 854 (Iowa 1975); Vohs v. District Commissioners of Fremont County, 218 N.W.2d 595 (Iowa 1974); Reed v. Gaylord, 216 N.W.2d 327 (Iowa 1974); Wonder Life Company v. Liddy, 207 N.W.2d 27 (Iowa 1973); Grant v. Fritz, 201 N.W.2d 188 (Iowa 1972). We recognized this duty under a provision similar to § 17A.19(8)(f) in Davenport Water Company v. Iowa State Commerce Commission, 190 N.W.2d 583 (Iowa 1971); see United Telephone Company of Iowa v. Iowa State Commerce Commission, 257 N.W.2d 466, 469-470 (Iowa 1977).

Evidence is substantial when a reasonable mind would accept it as adequate to reach a conclusion. Grant v. Fritz, supra, at 197. As provided in Code § 17A.19(8)(f), the entire record must be considered in determining whether the challenged finding has sufficient support. Nonetheless, the possibility of drawing two inconsistent conclusions from the evidence does not prevent an administrative agency's finding from being supported by substantial evidence. Reisner v. Board of Trustees of Fire Retirement System, 203 N.W.2d 812, 814 (Iowa 1973).

These principles are consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court's explanation of the federal APA and Taft-Hartley Act requirement that the whole record be examined in judicial review of National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) cases:

The substantiality of evidence must take into account whatever in the record fairly detracts from its weight. This is clearly the significance of the requirement in both statutes that courts consider the whole record.

To be sure, the requirement for canvassing "the whole record" in order to

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ascertain substantiality does not furnish a calculus of value by which a reviewing court can assess the evidence. Nor was it intended to negative the function of the Labor Board as one of those agencies presumably equipped or informed by experience to deal with a specialized field of knowledge, whose findings within that field carry the authority of an expertness which courts do not possess and therefore must respect. Nor does it mean that even as to matters not requiring expertise a court may displace the Board's choice between two fairly conflicting views, even though the court would justifiably have made a different choice had the matter been before it de novo. Congress has merely made it clear that a reviewing court is not barred from setting aside a Board decision when it cannot conscientiously find that the evidence supporting that decision is substantial, when viewed in the light that the record in its entirety furnishes, including the body of evidence opposed to the Board's view. Universal Camera Corporation v. National Labor Relations Board, 340 U.S. 474, 488, 71 S.Ct. 456, 464-465, 95 L.Ed. 456, 467-468 (1951).

These principles governing review of agency action must not be confused with those applicable to appellate review of a jury verdict or findings of fact of a trial judge in a law action tried to the court. We have said only supporting evidence need be considered in those cases. See Hunt v. State, 252 N.W.2d 715, 717 (Iowa 1977); Grefe v. Ross, 231 N.W.2d 863, 865 (Iowa 1975); Meade v. Roller, 212 N.W.2d 426, 429 (Iowa 1973).

As explained in Universal Camera, supra, the requirement of taking all evidence into account in reviewing administrative findings does not detract from the duty of courts to grant appropriate deference to agency expertise. The substantial evidence test accords respect to the expertise of the administrative tribunal and helps promote uniform application of the law. Consolo v. Federal Maritime Commission, 383 U.S. 607, 620, 86 S.Ct. 1018, 1027, 16 L.Ed.2d 131, 141 (1966); Grant v. Fritz, supra, at 197.

The wisdom of this carefully circumscribed standard of review is demonstrated by the kind of problem involved in the present case. In recently upholding an NLRB determination of employee status, the U.S. Supreme Court noted:

(T)his conclusion applies to but one specific instance of the "(m)yriad forms of service relationship, with infinite and subtle variations in terms of employment, (which) blanket the nation's economy," and which the Board must confront on a daily basis. Accordingly, regardless of how we might have resolved the question as an initial matter, the appropriate weight which must be given to the judgment of the agency whose special duty is to apply this broad statutory language to varying fact patterns requires enforcement of the Board's order. Bayside Enterprises, Inc. v. NLRB, 429 U.S. 298, 303-304, 97 S.Ct. 576, 580-581, 50 L.Ed.2d 494, 500-501 (1977).

Like the Iowa Public Employment Relations Act, the National Labor Relations Act excludes supervisory employees from the bargaining units affected by federal law. 29 U.S.C. § 152(3). In fact, the definition of...

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87 practice notes
  • Watson v. Nix, Civ. No. 81-351-D.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States State District Court of Southern District of Iowa
    • February 9, 1982
    ...of Midwest v. Iowa State Commerce Commission, 275 N.W.2d 364, 370 (Iowa 1979); City of Davenport v. Public Employment Relations Board, 264 N.W.2d 307, 311 (Iowa State v. Robinson, supra, 288 N.W.2d at 338. After discussing and quoting Jackson v. Virginia, the court went on to state: We do n......
  • Norland v. Iowa Dept. of Job Service, No. 86-1520
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • September 23, 1987
    ...of agency action is governed by the Iowa Administrative Procedure Act (IAPA), chapter 17A of the Iowa Code. City of Davenport v. PERB, 264 N.W.2d 307, 311 (Iowa 1978); Iowa Code § 17A.19. Because there is no such specific statutory provision applicable in this case, see Iowa Code § 96.6(3),......
  • Community Lutheran School v. Iowa Dept. of Job Service, No. 66485
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • November 24, 1982
    ...(Iowa 1973). Our review of agency action under IAPA is at law, not de novo. City of Davenport v. Public Employment Relations Board, 264 N.W.2d 307, 311 (Iowa II. The Iowa exemptions to IESL were enacted to bring this state into conformity with the FUTA exemptions. Our General Assembly "plai......
  • Schmitz v. Iowa Dept. of Human Services, No. 89-1213
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Iowa
    • August 30, 1990
    ...when a reasonable mind would accept it as adequate to reach a conclusion."); City of Davenport v. Public Employment Relations Bd., 264 N.W.2d 307, 311 (Iowa 1978) (same); Grant v. Fritz, 201 N.W.2d 188, 197 (Iowa 1972) ("evidence which, if true, has probative force upon the issues and from ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
87 cases
  • Watson v. Nix, Civ. No. 81-351-D.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States State District Court of Southern District of Iowa
    • February 9, 1982
    ...of Midwest v. Iowa State Commerce Commission, 275 N.W.2d 364, 370 (Iowa 1979); City of Davenport v. Public Employment Relations Board, 264 N.W.2d 307, 311 (Iowa State v. Robinson, supra, 288 N.W.2d at 338. After discussing and quoting Jackson v. Virginia, the court went on to state: We do n......
  • Norland v. Iowa Dept. of Job Service, No. 86-1520
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • September 23, 1987
    ...of agency action is governed by the Iowa Administrative Procedure Act (IAPA), chapter 17A of the Iowa Code. City of Davenport v. PERB, 264 N.W.2d 307, 311 (Iowa 1978); Iowa Code § 17A.19. Because there is no such specific statutory provision applicable in this case, see Iowa Code § 96.6(3),......
  • Community Lutheran School v. Iowa Dept. of Job Service, No. 66485
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • November 24, 1982
    ...(Iowa 1973). Our review of agency action under IAPA is at law, not de novo. City of Davenport v. Public Employment Relations Board, 264 N.W.2d 307, 311 (Iowa II. The Iowa exemptions to IESL were enacted to bring this state into conformity with the FUTA exemptions. Our General Assembly "plai......
  • Schmitz v. Iowa Dept. of Human Services, No. 89-1213
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Iowa
    • August 30, 1990
    ...when a reasonable mind would accept it as adequate to reach a conclusion."); City of Davenport v. Public Employment Relations Bd., 264 N.W.2d 307, 311 (Iowa 1978) (same); Grant v. Fritz, 201 N.W.2d 188, 197 (Iowa 1972) ("evidence which, if true, has probative force upon the issues and from ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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