Metropolitan Council 23, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO v. Oakland County

Decision Date16 July 1980
Docket NumberNo. 15,No. 63127,AFL-CI,P,63127,15
Citation105 L.R.R.M. (BNA) 3424,409 Mich. 299,294 N.W.2d 578
PartiesMETROPOLITAN COUNCIL 23, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF STATE, COUNTY AND MUNICIPAL EMPLOYEES,laintiff-Appellee, and Michigan Employment Relations Commission, Appellee, v. OAKLAND COUNTY (Prosecutor's Investigators), Defendant-Appellant. Calendar 409 Mich. 299, 294 N.W.2d 578, 105 L.R.R.M. (BNA) 3424
CourtMichigan Supreme Court

M. Elizabeth Bunn, George M. Mauer, Jr., Detroit, for plaintiff-appellee.

A. Russell Messina, Pontiac, for defendant-appellant.

WILLIAMS, Justice (for reversal).

This is a case of first impression in this Court. Generally, it involves whether 17 prosecutor's investigators employed in the Oakland County Prosecutor's Department and represented by a separate collective bargaining unit therein may initiate compulsory, binding "public police and fire department" interest arbitration proceedings pursuant to 1969 PA 312. M.C.L. § 423.231 et seq.; M.S.A. § 17.455(31) et seq. (Act or Act 312).

The Legislature, seeking to avoid the peril to public safety, order and welfare caused by "public police and fire department" critical-service work stoppages, enacted Act 312. The express purposes, objects, and mechanics of the Act are codified in §§ 1, 2(1) and 3 respectively:

"Sec. 1. It is the public policy of this state that in public police and fire departments, where the right of employees to strike is by law prohibited, it is requisite to the high morale of such employees and the efficient operation of such departments to afford an alternate, expeditious effective and binding procedure for the resolution of disputes, * * *." M.C.L. § 423.231; M.S.A. § 17.455(31). (Emphasis supplied.)

"Sec. 2. (1) Public police and fire departments means any department of a city, county, village, or township having employees engaged as policemen, or in fire fighting or subject to the hazards thereof, emergency medical service personnel employed by a police or fire department, or an emergency telephone operator employed by a police or fire department." M.C.L. § 423.232(1); M.S.A. § 17.455(32)(1). (Emphasis supplied.)

"Sec. 3. Whenever in the course of mediation of a public police or fire department employee's dispute * * * (an impasse is reached), the employees or employer may initiate binding arbitration proceedings * * *." M.C.L. § 423.233; M.S.A. § 17.455(33). (Emphasis supplied.)

In essence, pursuant to § 3 either "the employees or employer" of a § 2(1) public police or fire "department * * * having employees engaged as policemen, * * * or subject to the hazards thereof", may initiate binding interest arbitration proceedings to resolve a "public police or fire department employee's dispute" where, as stated in § 1, "it is requisite to the high morale of such employees and the efficient operation of such departments" for averting critical-service work stoppages.

While the Act as a whole was obviously engineered to avert critical-service work stoppages arising from the nonresolution of a "public police * * * department employee's dispute", the Act is inherently ambiguous regarding eligibility to invoke its intended coverage. Although §§ 1, 2(1) and 3 each refer to a "public police or fire department" as the object of the Act's dispute resolution coverage, this object admits of three differing interpretations. These interpretations depend on whether one concentrates on (1) the literal status of the interested municipal department/employer, (2) the critical-service status of the complaining employee, or (3) the critical-service status of both guided by the legislative intent underlying the Act as a whole.

The first interpretation concentrates sole attention on the status of the interested department/employer and emerges from a literal reading of § 2(1) alone. As such, regardless of the critical-service employment status of the particular complainant employee, if the interested department/employer is a literal § 2(1) county department having somewhere within its ranks more than one employee engaged subject to the hazards of police work, both itself and all of its employees may invoke the Act as a statutorily-defined "public police department" employer or employee. The sole requisite for invocation of the Act under this interpretation is a finding that the interested department of municipal government whatever its principal function or charter, be it a city administrative department, a county library, or a township sanitation department engage more than one employee in either police work or in a capacity subject to the hazards thereof. Literal satisfaction of the § 2(1) scope provision alone is thought sufficient to activate the entire Act 312 statutory scheme in favor of all departmental employees' disputes; further, no reference is made to whether operation of the Act in favor of this interested department/employer as well as each of its employees would effectuate the Act's manifest intent to avert critical-service work stoppages. This interpretation has been argued and rejected in dicta by at least two Court of Appeals panels. 1 The second interpretation focuses solely on the critical-service employment status of the complaining employee forwarding the dispute. As such, regardless of the critical-service nature of the interested municipal department/employer, if the complainant is found to be a county department employee subject to the hazards of police work pursuant to the literal terms of § 2(1), that party will be considered a § 3 "public police * * * department employee" whose dispute may be resolved through initiation of Act 312 proceedings. Under this interpretation, literal satisfaction of the § 2(1) scope criterion that the complainant be subject to the hazards of police work is thought to engage the totality of inquiry without the necessity of considering whether invocation of the Act's proceedings to resolve that party's dispute would effectuate the Act's manifest intent as a whole. This narrow interpretive analysis was employed by both the MERC 2 and the Court of Appeals 3 to hold the dispute of the instant prosecutor's investigators subject to Act 312 arbitration; other panels of our Court of Appeals and the MERC, as well as the Attorney General have likewise pursued this singular interpretive analysis to resolve similar eligibility questions. 4

The third interpretation converges on the critical-service status of both the complainant employee and the interested department/employer. In accordance with this interpretation, it is only when both critical-service elements are satisfied that the Act's § 1 purpose and policy will be effectuated, i. e., to resolve a "public police * * * department employee's dispute", where "it is requisite to the high morale of such employees and the efficient operation of such departments" for averting critical-service work stoppages. Under this dual, whole-act interpretation, two premises must be satisfied. First, the particular complainant employee must be subject to the hazards of police work; it is not enough that the interested department/employer merely employ at least two persons engaged in that capacity who are not complainants. Second, the interested department/employer must be a critical-service county department engaging such complainant employees and having as its principal function the promotion of the public safety, order and welfare so that a work stoppage in that department would threaten community safety; again, it is not enough that the interested department/employer merely employ at least two persons who fulfill the first premise whether or not complainants. Only when both premises are fulfilled may the benefits of Act 312's "alternate, expeditious, effective and binding procedure for the resolution of a ("public police * * * department employee's dispute")" be initiated by the critical-service complainant, because it is "requisite to the high morale of such employees and the efficient operation of such departments". Unlike its distinct interpretive counterparts, this third mode of interpretive analysis employs both the literal § 2(1) scope provision and the § 1 purpose provision in determining whether the championed dispute is embraced by the Act's intended coverage.

We are persuaded that the third mode of dual analysis is the appropriate one for ascertaining whether the instant prosecutor's investigators may initiate Act 312 proceedings to resolve their dispute as critical-service "public police * * * department" employees. Applying that dual, third mode of interpretive analysis to the facts of this case, it emerges that although these investigators are subject to the hazards of police work and although the Oakland County Prosecutor's Department is literally a county department engaging such employees, we are unpersuaded that the Oakland County Prosecutor's Department constitutes an intended "public police department" so that allowing either itself or its investigators to resolve their dispute pursuant to Act 312 will effectuate the whole Act's intent as either (1) "requisite to the high morale of (the Oakland County Prosecutor's Department) employees" or (2) requisite to "the efficient operation of (the Oakland County Prosecutor's Department)" or (3) necessary for averting critical-service strikes which would likely impede the public safety, order and welfare. While the prosecutor's investigators as well as the Oakland County Prosecutor's Department each literally satisfy the requirements of the § 2(1) scope provision, invocation of the Act to resolve their dispute is not embraced by the Act's paramount intent expressed in § 1 and discerned from case law since the Oakland County Prosecutor's Department does not constitute an intended critical-service "public police department."

For these reasons, we hold that the instant dispute is not subject to Act 312 coverage. As this Court early stated in Common Council of Detroit v. Rush, 82...

To continue reading

Request your trial
25 cases
  • Kassab v. Michigan Basic Property Ins. Ass'n
    • United States
    • Michigan Supreme Court
    • September 30, 1992
    ... ... PROPERTY INSURANCE ASSOCIATION, Metropolitan ... Adjustment & Investigation Company, and John ... in establishing the allegations, they do state a cause of action ...         We ... opportunities in all aspects of American life ... " ...         The purposes of ... recovered in the name of the people by the county prosecutor, or by the Attorney General. M.C.L ... the contrary.' " Metropolitan Council No. 23 v. Oakland Co. Prosecutor, 409 Mich. 299, ... , their agents, representatives and employees, evaluated and rejected plaintiff's claim not on ... ...
  • Cameron v. Auto Club Ins. Ass'n
    • United States
    • Michigan Supreme Court
    • July 28, 2006
    ... ... premium costs to the drivers of this state occasioned by the revisions they seek for this ... Flushing City Council, 472 Mich. 326, 340, 696 N.W.2d 671 (2005) ... 23 AFSCME v. Oakland Co. Prosecutor, 409 Mich. 299, 325, 327-328, 294 ... ABSURD RESULTS RULE OF CONSTRUCTION IN AMERICAN STATES ...         A review of the case ... ...
  • People v. Stoudemire
    • United States
    • Michigan Supreme Court
    • December 21, 1987
    ... ... 429 Mich. 262 ... PEOPLE of the State of Michigan, Plaintiff-Appellee, ... Wesley ... , unless within the intention.' " Council # 23 v. Oakland Co., 409 Mich. 299, 319, 294 ... Dussia v. Monroe Co. Employees Retirement System, 386 Mich. 244, 248-249, 191 ... ...
  • Mich. Educ. Ass'n v. Sec'y of State
    • United States
    • Michigan Supreme Court
    • June 30, 2011
    ... ... State AFLCIO; SEIU Michigan State Council; and International Union, United Automobile, ... remits political contributions from its employees to the Michigan Education Association's political ... the MEA's locally affiliated Kalamazoo County/Gull Lake Education Associations and the Gull ... The American Heritage Dictionary, Second College Edition ... , school district, special district, or municipal corporation; or a board, department, commission, ... Metro. Council No. 23, AFSCME v. Oakland Co. Prosecutor, 409 Mich. 299, 318, 294 N.W.2d ... ...
  • 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