City of Louisville v. Louisville Professional Firefighters Ass'n, Local Union No. 345, IAFF, AFL-CIO By and Through Gnagie
|09 May 1991
|813 S.W.2d 804
|138 L.R.R.M. (BNA) 2816 CITY OF LOUISVILLE, Movant, v. LOUISVILLE PROFESSIONAL FIREFIGHTERS ASSOCIATION, LOCAL UNION NO. 345, IAFF,y and Through its president, Ronald E. GNAGIE, and Ronald E. Gnagie, Individually, and State Labor Relations Board, Respondent.
|United States State Supreme Court — District of Kentucky
Frank X. Quickert, Jr., Director of Law, City of Louisville, David Leightty, Cecil A. Blye, Jr., Asst. Directors of Law, Louisville, for movant.
Herbert L. Segal, Irwin H. Cutler, Jr., Segal, Isenberg, Sales, Stewart, and Cutler, Louisville, for respondent.
Rex Hunt, General Counsel, Commonwealth of Kentucky Labor Cabinet, Frankfort, for State Labor Relations Bd.
This action arises out of a grievance filed by the Louisville Professional Firefighters Association, Local Union No. 345, IAFF, AFL-CIO (union), charging the City of Louisville, Kentucky (city), with an unfair labor practice.
In 1986, the city and the union entered into a two-year collective bargaining agreement (agreement) which established the work schedule of the city's firefighters. However, the agreement omitted the schedule of the arson investigation unit.
On August 4, 1986, the city unilaterally implemented a third shift into the two-shift schedule of the arson unit. The city did not consult nor bargain with the union concerning the schedule change because it believed the agreement did not prevent such a change in hours. The union formally objected to this change and filed a grievance with the State Labor Relations Board (Board). The union claimed that the city did not have the right to make such a change in the schedule of the arson squad. A hearing was held before an arbitrator on August 7, 1986. The arbitrator, in a non-binding decision, found that the new shift was a change in the employees' working conditions and ordered the city to negotiate with the union regarding the change in hours. The city agreed to negotiate but refused to change the hours of the arson squad back to the status quo ante. See NLRB v. Truckdrivers Union Local 164, 753 F.2d 53 (6th Cir.1985).
The union filed suit in the Jefferson Circuit Court (Division Seven), seeking injunctive relief from the changed work schedule. The union claimed that the city was in violation of the agreement, and of the arbitration award. The city continued to argue that the contract permitted it to change the hours without notice to the union. The parties stipulated in this first action that the union "is the exclusive representative under KRS Chapter 345 for purposes of collective bargaining for a unit of the Defendant's employees in its Division of Fire." The city also argued vehemently before Division Seven that KRS Chapter 345 governed the labor relations between the city and the union and that the dispute between the parties should be decided by the Board. The city stated in its brief to Division Seven:
As public employees of the City of Louisville, this Union, the employees in question, and the City of Louisville are not covered by the Federal labor laws which regulate labor relations in the private sector. Indeed, public employers are expressly excluded from the definition of employer in the National Labor Relations Act. 29 U.S.C. Sec. 152(2).
However, there is a state statutory enactment which governs the labor relations between the City of Louisville and the Firefighters Union. The Statute in question is KRS Chapter 345, under which the Union was recognized as collective bargaining representative for Firefighters of the City of Louisville ...
Further, the city, in supplemental briefs requested by the trial court stated:
In Kentucky, the Firefighters' Collective Bargaining Act, embodied in KRS Chapter 345, creates a State Labor Relations Board, which has exclusive jurisdiction over the unfair labor practices which are established in that chapter. It is KRS Chapter 345 which creates the obligation to bargain, and makes failure to bargain an unfair labor practice. The procedures prescribed in Chapter 345 are therefore the exclusive remedies for an alleged unfair labor practice.
The Division Seven trial court found in its Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Order, that the city had committed an unfair labor practice when it unilaterally added the third shift to the schedule of the arson squad. Further, the trial court in this first action held that "[t]he City had a [statutory] duty to bargain before adding a third shift unless the Union had given up the right to bargain on this issue, and the contract contains no such provision." Finally, the trial court agreed with the city's argument that the union was required to seek redress before the Board to remedy an unfair labor practice. The case was dismissed without prejudice and remanded to the Board to determine whether the city had committed an unfair labor practice. Neither party appealed from the first decision of the trial court.
The union then compliantly filed an administrative complaint before the Board claiming that the city had committed an unfair labor practice when it failed to bargain collectively concerning the new shift. This administrative complaint was expressly filed under the provisions of KRS Chapter 345. The Board, without deciding the issue of whether the city had committed an unfair labor practice, treated the dispute as a matter of contract interpretation, and dismissed the complaint.
The union appealed the decision of the Board to the Jefferson Circuit Court (Division Three). The union argued that the Memorandum and Order of the Board should be reversed and remanded because its decision was arbitrary and capricious without an adequate evidentiary basis for its findings of fact and conclusions of law. The union also requested that Division Three find that the unilateral change of hours was an issue for collective bargaining and within the jurisdiction granted the Board by KRS 345.070. The city for the first time now argued in the second trial court action that KRS Chapter 345 was unconstitutional because the statute was "special" or "local" legislation under Sections 59 and 60 of the Kentucky Constitution. The city did a further "about-face" and argued that KRS Chapter 345 was inapplicable because the population of Louisville, Kentucky, had dropped below 300,000 people; the threshold population requirement for the application of KRS Chapter 345.
The Division Three trial court in this second action held that KRS Chapter 345 was constitutional and ruled that the city was barred under the doctrines of res judicata and waiver from asserting the argument that KRS Chapter 345 was inapplicable. The trial court also set aside the Board's Orders of February 17, 1987, and May 9, 1987, and held that its decision was "undeniably" arbitrary and capricious. The trial court remanded the dispute to the Board for further adjudication on the issue of whether the city had committed an unfair labor practice when it unilaterally added the third shift, and on the issue of whether the city had committed a statutory violation under KRS 345.070 by failing to bargain collectively with the union.
The city appealed the decision of Division Three to the Court of Appeals, which affirmed on all issues. We granted discretionary review.
The issues which we review are: 1) whether KRS Chapter 345 is constitutional; 2) whether the city is barred under the doctrines of res judicata and waiver from raising the issue of the applicability of KRS Chapter 345; and 3) whether the State Labor Relations Board acted arbitrarily and capriciously. We will address the res judicata and waiver issue first.
Under the doctrine of res judicata or "claim preclusion," a judgment on the merits in a prior suit involving the same parties or their privies bars a subsequent suit based upon the same cause of action. Lawlor v. National Screen Service Corporation, 349 U.S. 322, 75 S.Ct. 865, 99 L.Ed. 1122 (1955); Vaughn's Adm'r v. Louisville & N.R. Co., 297 Ky. 309, 179 S.W.2d 441 (1944). In Newman v. Newman, Ky., 451 S.W.2d 417 (1970), we set forth the elements of res judicata:
The general rule for determining the question of res judicata as between parties in actions embraces several conditions. First, there must be identity of the parties. Second, there must be identity of the two causes of action. Third, the action must be decided on its merits. In short,...
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