In re United Pub. Workers, CAAP-18-0000904

CourtCourt of Appeals of Hawai'i
Citation151 Hawai‘i 133,508 P.3d 1219 (Table)
Docket NumberCAAP-18-0000904
Parties In the MATTER OF the Mediation Between UNITED PUBLIC WORKERS, AFSCME, LOCAL 646, AFL-CIO, Union-Appellee, and City and County of Honolulu, Department of Environmental Services, Refuse Division (on bulky item refuse collection) (KA-13-09) (2013-024), Employer-Appellant
Decision Date12 May 2022

151 Hawai‘i 133
508 P.3d 1219 (Table)

In the MATTER OF the Mediation Between UNITED PUBLIC WORKERS, AFSCME, LOCAL 646, AFL-CIO, Union-Appellee,
and
City and County of Honolulu, Department of Environmental Services, Refuse Division (on bulky item refuse collection) (KA-13-09) (2013-024), Employer-Appellant

NO. CAAP-18-0000904

Intermediate Court of Appeals of Hawai‘i.

May 12, 2022


On the briefs:

Ernest H. Nomura, Deputy Corporation Counsel, for Employer-Appellant.

Herbert R. Takahashi, Rebecca L. Covert, for Union-Appellee.

(By: Hiraoka, Presiding Judge, Wadsworth and McCullen, JJ.)

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Employer-Appellant City and County of Honolulu, Department of Environmental Services, Refuse Division (City or Employer ), appeals from the Judgment entered by the Circuit Court of the First Circuit on October 22, 2018.1 For the reasons explained below, we affirm the Judgment.

BACKGROUND

Union-Appellee United Public Workers, AFSCME, Local 646, AFL-CIO (UPW or Union ) initiated three class grievances against the City. UPW and the City agreed to have one person serve as arbitrator for all three cases. UPW served a discovery request upon the City. The City did not respond. UPW filed a motion to compel and for sanctions. The arbitrator granted the motion and imposed sanctions against the City. The April 3, 2018 "Order Granting Motion to Compel and for Sanctions" provided, in relevant part:

I. Employer shall pay to the union sanctions in the amount of $4,188.48 for continuing and repeated violations of Section 15.09 and the arbitrator's prior cease and desist order. ... Payment of the sanctions by employer to the union in the amount of $4,188.48 shall be made not later than 30 days from the date of this order.

J. Employer is hereby ordered to provide prompt, full, and complete responses to the union's request for information dated February 9, 2018 by not later than 7 days from the date of this order, and shall cease and desist from continuing to violate Section 15.09 of the unit 1 agreement.

K. In the event employer fails to comply with paragraphs I and J of this decision and order, employer shall pay to the union a daily assessment to be determined by the Arbitrator. If there is non-compliance with the terms and conditions of this order, additional attorney's fees incurred by the union to enforce compliance with this decision may be ordered.

(citations omitted).

The City did not comply with the Order Granting Motion to Compel. UPW moved for entry of a partial final award. The arbitrator granted the motion and issued a "Partial Final Arbitration Decision and Award" (Partial Final Award ) on June 7, 2018. The Partial Final Award provided:

1. Employer shall pay to the Union daily assessments of $300.00 per day from April 10, 2018 to May 21, 2018 for a total of $12,300[.] The assessments shall be paid by the Employer to the Union not later than forty-five (45) days from the date of this decision and award. In the event Employer fails to make timely payment of the daily assessments, Employer shall pay interest on the amounts due and owing at the rate of ten percent (10%) per annum to the date payment of the full amount due and owing is actually made to the Union.

2. Employer shall pay to the Union $4,188.48 for attorney's fees which were due and owing on and after May 3, 2018 under the April 3, 2018 order granting the motion to compel and for sanctions together with interest assessed at ten percent (10%) per annum from May 3, 2018 to the date payment is actually made by Employer to the Union.

3. Employer shall pay to the Union additional attorney's fees in the amount of $15,078.53 for attorney's fees and costs in the amount of $562.47 to enforce compliance with the remedial terms of the April 3, 2018 order granting the motion to compel and for sanctions. The additional reasonable attorney's fees and costs shall be paid by the Employer to the Union not later than forty-five (45) days from the date of this decision and award. In the event Employer fails to make timely payment of the additional costs and reasonable attorney's fees, Employer shall pay interest on the amounts due and owing at the rate of ten percent (10%) per annum to the date payment of the full amount due and owing is actually made to the Union.

UPW then initiated a special proceeding in circuit court to confirm the Partial Final Award. The City did not move to vacate the Partial Final Award. The record does not contain a memorandum in opposition filed by the City.2 The circuit court entered an order granting UPW's motion and the Judgment. This appeal by the City followed.

POINT OF ERROR

The City raises a single, narrow point of error:

"The circuit court erred as a matter of law in granting UPW's Motion to Confirm in concluding that the Partial Final Award was subject to confirmation under Haw. Rev. Stat. § 658A-22."

The City did not move to vacate the Partial Final Award and the record contains no memorandum in opposition to UPW's motion to confirm. The only argument the City could not have waived is that the circuit court lacked jurisdiction under Chapter 658A of the Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS ) to confirm the Partial Final Award. See Mathewson v. Aloha Airlines, Inc., 82 Hawai‘i 57, 69, 919 P.2d 969, 981 (1996) ("The lack of subject matter jurisdiction can never be waived by any party at any time.") (cleaned up).

STANDARD OF REVIEW

"Whether a circuit court possesses subject matter jurisdiction over a dispute relating to arbitration ... is a question of law reviewable de novo." Mathewson, 82 Hawai‘i at 69, 919 P.2d at 981 (citations omitted).

Questions of statutory interpretation are questions of law to be reviewed de novo under the right/wrong standard. Our statutory construction is guided by the following well established principles: our foremost obligation is to ascertain and give effect to the intention of the legislature, which is to be obtained primarily from the
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