Glendale City Employees' Assn., Inc. v. City of Glendale

Citation15 Cal.3d 328,540 P.2d 609,124 Cal.Rptr. 513
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (California)
Decision Date03 October 1975
Parties, 540 P.2d 609, 90 L.R.R.M. (BNA) 2603, 78 Lab.Cas. P 53,797 GLENDALE CITY EMPLOYEES' ASSOCIATION, INC., et al., Plaintiffs and Appellants, v. CITY OF GLENDALE et al., Defendants and Appellants. L.A. 30357. In Bank

Mohi, Morales & Glasman, Mohi, Morales, Dumas & Glasman, and Frank C. Morales, Los Angeles, for plaintiffs and appellants.

Lemaire & Faunce, Cy H. Lemaire, Edward L. Faunce, Los Angeles, Davis, Cowell & Bowe, Alan C. Davis and Wayne S. Canterbury, San Francisco, as amici curiae on behalf of plaintiffs and appellants.

Joseph Rainville and Richard W. Marston, City Attys., Robert L. Smith and Frank R. Manzano, Asst. City Attys., Burke, Williams & Soresen, George W. Wakefield and Richard R. Terzian, Los Angeles, for defendants and appellants.

David S. Kaplan, Sacramento, Richard S. Whitmore and Gillio & Whitmore, Sunnyvale, as amici curiae on behalf of defendants and appellants.

TOBRINER, Justice.

With the enactment of the George Brown Act (Stats.1961, ch. 1964) in 1961, California became one of the first states to recognize the right of government employees to organize collectively and to confer with management as to the terms and conditions of their employment. Proceeding beyond that act the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act (Stats.1968, ch. 1390) authorized labor and management representatives not only to confer but to enter into written agreements for presentation to the governing body of a municipal government or other local agency. 1 The present case raises among other issues which we shall discuss the fundamental question unanswered by the literal text of these statutes: whether an agreement entered into under the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act, once approved by the governing board of the local entities, binds the public employer and the public employee organization. We conclude that the Legislature intended that such an understanding, Once ratified, is indeed binding upon the parties.

1. Statement of facts.

Pursuant to the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act, negotiators for plaintiff Glendale City Employees' Association, Inc., the designated representative for the city employees, met with Charles Briley, the assistant city manager, to discuss employee salaries for the 1970--1971 fiscal year. The parties negotiated a memorandum of understanding, which they presented to the city council. On June 9, 1970, the council passed a motion approving the memorandum. The memorandum of understanding provides for a cost of living adjustment, sick leave, incentive pay, and a salary survey; the only matter that remains at issue is the survey provision. 2

The survey provision reads as follows: 'The parties hereto will conduct a joint salary survey and using as guide lines data secured from the following jurisdictions, Burbank, Pasadena, Santa Monica, Long Beach, Anaheim, Santa Ana, Los Angeles City and Los Angeles County. The intent of the survey will be to place Glendale salaries in an above average position with reference to the jurisdictions compared with proper consideration given to internal alignments and traditional relationships. The data used will be that data available to us and intended for use in fiscal year 1970--71. Adjustments which it is agreed shall be made will have an effective date of October 1, 1970. It is intended that comparisons will be made on a classification basis and not title only, and that the classifications shall be determined by professional judgment of the highest qualified personnel people with whom we would confer in the jurisdictions with which we will compare.' (Emphasis added.)

The city conducted the survey. Consistent with past practice, the city organized the data by preparing bar graphs comparing Glendale salaries with the surveyed jurisdiction. Although the graphs show the entire salary range for each job classification, the parties are primarily concerned with the salaries paid employees in the top (5th or E) step of each salary range since a majority of Glendale employees are at that level.

By viewing the bar graphs, the city manager could obtain a rough idea of how Glendale salaries at each step compared with salaries paid in surveyed jurisdictions. On this basis the city manager, in September of 1970, prepared a draft salary ordinance. Plaintiff association, using the survey data, computed the arithmetic average of salaries from the surveyed jurisdictions for the top step of each job classification, and discovered that in many instances the salary proposed in the draft ordinance was below this average. Over the objection of the association the city council, on October 1, 1970, enacted the ordinance (Salary Ordinance No. 3936) recommended by the city manager.

On behalf of the class of city employees, plaintiff association and certain of its members filed the instant suit against the City of Glendale and its councilmen. Upholding the binding nature of the memorandum of understanding, the trial court admitted parol testimony of the negotiators to aid in the interpretation of its provisions. On the basis of that testimony, the court concluded that the city must compute the arithmetic (mean) average of the salaries paid employees in the highest step of each comparable classification in the surveyed jurisdictions, and must pay Glendale employees in the fifth step of each classification a salary equal to the average from the surveyed jurisdiction, plus one cent. Salaries of workers in the lower steps would be determined by the existing ratio of such salaries to step E salaries, thus preserving 'internal alignments' as required by the memorandum. 3

The court concluded that Salary Ordinance No. 3936 did not meet these criteria, and that the failure of the city to pay salaries in excess of the arithmetic average of surveyed jurisdictions constituted an abuse of discretion and a breach both of the memorandum of understanding and of the city's duty under the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act. Finally, the court concluded that since plaintiffs had no adequate remedy at law, mandamus should issue to compel defendants to compute and pay compensation to city employees in accord with the formula set out in the court's findings and conclusions. The court directed that 25 percent of all retroactive salaries and wages recovered should be payable to plaintiffs' counsel as attorneys' fees.

Defendants appealed. They contend that the memorandum of understanding was not binding, that the trial court erred in its interpretation of the memorandum, and that in any event the memorandum cannot be enforced by writ of mandamus. Defendants also argue that the present suit is not a proper class action, and that relief is barred by plaintiff's failure to exhaust administrative remedies. Plaintiffs filed a cross-appeal which raises a single limited issue; plaintiffs maintain that whenever an employee's salary must be increased to bring it into line with the survey, it should be increased not only to a figure one cent above average, but to a figure lying on a higher salary range.

2. The memorandum of understanding, once approved by the city council, is binding upon the parties.

The Meyers-Milias-Brown Act, as set forth in Government Code section 3505.1, provides that after negotiations 'If agreement is reached by the representatives of the public agency and a recognized employee organization . . . they shall jointly prepare a written memorandum of such understanding, which shall not be binding, and present it to the governing body or its statutory representative for determination.' 4 As we shall explain once the governmental body votes to accept the memorandum, it becomes a binding agreement.

The historical progression in the legislative enactments began with the George Brown Act. 5 That act sought in general to promote 'the improvement of personnel management and employer-employee relations . . . through the establishment of uniform and orderly methods of communication between employees and the public agencies by which they are employed.' (Stats.1961, ch. 1964, p. 4141.) It provided, in former section 3505, that 'The governing body of a public agency (or its representatives), shall meet and confer with representatives of employee organizations upon request, and shall consider as fully as it deems reasonable such presentations as are made by the employee organization on behalf of its members prior to arriving at a determination of policy or course of action.' (Stats.1961, ch. 1964, p. 4142.) 6

During the years following enactment of the George Brown Act public employee unions continued to grow in size 7 and to press their claims that public employees should enjoy the same bargaining rights as private employees so long as such rights did not conflict with the public service. 8 The George Brown Act, originally a pioneering piece of legislation, provided only that management representatives should listen to and discuss the demands of the unions. Apparently the failure of that act to resolve the continual controversy between the growing public employees' organizations and their employers led to further legislative inquiry. Moreover, subsequent enactments of other states, which granted public employees far more extensive bargaining rights, 9 further exposed the limitations of the George Brown Act.

Cognizant of this turn of events the Legislature in 1968 enacted the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act. 10 Expressly intending the new law to strengthen employer-employee communication, the Legislature provided for 'a reasonable method of resolving disputes regarding wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment.' (Gov.Code, § 3500.) The public agency must not only listen to presentations, but 'meet and confer in good faith' (Gov.Code, § 3505), a phrase statutorily defined to include a free exchange of information, opinions and proposals, with the Objective of reaching 'agreement on matters within...

To continue reading

Request your trial
193 cases
  • Service Employees International Union v. County of Napa, AFL-CI
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • December 19, 1979
    ...body and thus became a binding agreement. (See Glendale City Employees' Assn., Inc. v. City of Glendale[99 Cal.App.3d 950] (1975) 15 Cal.3d 328, 337, 124 Cal.Rptr. 513, 540 P.2d 609 (cert. den., 424 U.S. 943, 96 S.Ct. 1411, 47 L.Ed.2d 349).) That document will hereafter be termed the Page 8......
  • City of Palo Alto v. Pub. Emp't Relations Bd., H041407
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • November 23, 2016
    ...(Id . at p. 558, 127 Cal.Rptr. 856.)San Leandro relied on Glendale City Employees ' Assn ., Inc . v . City of Glendale (1975) 15 Cal.3d 328, 124 Cal.Rptr. 513, 540 P.2d 609 (Glendale ). 5 Cal.App.5th 1314In Glendale , city employees negotiated a memorandum of understanding that was passed b......
  • Voris v. Lampert, S241812
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • August 15, 2019
    ...broken, the "usual remedy" has been an action for breach of contract. ( Glendale City Employees’ Assn., Inc. v. City of Glendale (1975) 15 Cal.3d 328, 343, 124 Cal.Rptr. 513, 540 P.2d 609, citing Elevator Operators etc. Union v. Newman (1947) 30 Cal.2d 799, 808, 186 P.2d 1, and cases cited ......
  • Superior Motels, Inc. v. Rinn Motor Hotels, Inc.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • October 29, 1987 substantial evidence can defendants' contention be sustained. (See Glendale City Employees' Assn., Inc. v. City of Glendale (1975) 15 Cal.3d 328, 340, 124 Cal.Rptr. 513, 540 P.2d 609; Parsons v. Bristol Development Co. (1965) 62 Cal.2d 861, 865-866, 44 Cal.Rptr. 767, 402 P.2d 839; Wester......
  • 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