Municipality of Anchorage v. Anchorage Police Dept. Employees Ass'n, s. S-4044

CourtSupreme Court of Alaska (US)
Writing for the CourtBefore RABINOWITZ; RABINOWITZ
Citation839 P.2d 1080
PartiesMUNICIPALITY OF ANCHORAGE, Appellant, v. ANCHORAGE POLICE DEPARTMENT EMPLOYEES ASSOCIATION, and International Association of Fire Fighters, Local 1264, Appellees.
Docket NumberS-4151,Nos. S-4044,s. S-4044
Decision Date23 October 1992

Page 1080

839 P.2d 1080
MUNICIPALITY OF ANCHORAGE, Appellant,
v.
ANCHORAGE POLICE DEPARTMENT EMPLOYEES ASSOCIATION, and
International Association of Fire Fighters, Local
1264, Appellees.
Nos. S-4044, S-4151.
Supreme Court of Alaska.
Oct. 23, 1992.

Page 1081

David T. Jones, Perkins Coie, Anchorage, for appellant.

R. Brooke Holstedt, Aitchison, Hoag, Vick & Tarantino, Salem, Oregon, and Mary-Ellen Zalewski, Lane, Powell, Spears & Lubersky, Anchorage, for appellee Anchorage Police Dept. Employees Ass'n.

Charles A. Dunnagan, and James A. Gasper, Jermain, Dunnagan & Owens, P.C., Anchorage, for appellee Intern. Ass'n of Fire Fighters, Local 1264.

Before RABINOWITZ, C.J., and BURKE, MATTHEWS, COMPTON and MOORE, JJ.

RABINOWITZ, Chief Justice.

INTRODUCTION

The primary question raised in this appeal is whether the Municipality of Anchorage's Code, which provides for final and binding interest arbitration, 1 constitutes an unconstitutional delegation of the Municipality's legislative power to an arbitrator. 2

FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS

The facts are undisputed. In 1975, the Municipality of Anchorage (Municipality) opted out of coverage under the Public Employment Relations Act, enacting instead a comprehensive labor ordinance in the Anchorage Municipal Code (AMC) in 1976. See Anch.Ord. 69-75, at § 2.300.010-.170. Since the labor ordinance was enacted, the AMC has included a binding arbitration provision. The version of Chapter 3.70 of the AMC, governing employee relations, that is at issue in the instant case most recently was amended by the Anchorage Assembly by the passage of Anchorage Ordinance 89-46(S-1) (1989). 3

Anchorage Municipal Code 3.70.110(A)(1) defines three classes of employees. 4 Relevant

Page 1082

to this appeal is the class referred to as "A.1 employees," whose services "may not be given up for even the shortest period of time." AMC 3.70.110(A)(1). Employees in the A.1 category are the police, fire protection and emergency medical services. AMC 3.70.110(B). If the Municipality and employees of an A.1 bargaining unit are unable to reach a contract agreement at least seven days before the existing agreement expires, the parties are required by AMC 3.70.110(C)(1) and (9) to submit to mandatory binding interest arbitration. The Code also prohibits employees whose positions are within the A.1 category from engaging in a strike or slowdown. AMC 3.70.120(A). Rather, in the event of impasse in the contract negotiation procedure, the parties must invoke the mediation and impasse resolution procedures of AMC 3.70.100 and .110.

For A.1 employees, the Code requires that the bargaining unit and the Municipality negotiate at least 90 days before the expiration of the contract. AMC 3.70.90(C). If the parties have not reached an agreement 60 days before the expiration date, the Municipality's Employee Relations Board shall select a neutral mediator to mediate further negotiation sessions. AMC 3.70.100(A). If, within 30 days of the contract expiration, the parties have not arrived at an agreement, the parties must select a fact-finder as provided in AMC 3.70.100(B). 5 The fact finder must "conduct a hearing and return findings of fact concerning the specific issue in question." AMC 3.70.100(B). After the fact finder transmits the findings, the parties have fourteen days to reach an agreement before all unresolved issues must be submitted to arbitration. AMC 3.70.100(B). The Code further provides that if A.1 employees and the Municipality fail to reach an agreement within seven days of the contract expiration, all unresolved issues must be submitted for binding arbitration before the same individual who served as fact finder. AMC 3.70.110(C)(1). 6

The Code provides that:

The decision of the arbitrator for bargaining units or portions of bargaining units within category A.1 shall be reduced to writing and shall be final and binding upon the parties. The collective bargaining agreement, in compliance with the arbitrator's decision, shall be prepared and executed by the parties. Decisions of the arbitrator may be appealed to the Superior Court for the State of Alaska only for abuse of discretion, fraud, or misconduct on the part of the arbitrator.

AMC 3.70.110(C)(9).

However, the Code does limit the scope of the arbitrator's authority in AMC 3.70.110(C)(7),

Page 1083

Scope of arbitrator's authority. The arbitrator shall be limited in his authority to:

A. Selection on an article-by-article basis of either party's last best offer submitted to him by each of the parties to the collective bargaining process; and

B. In exercising his discretion, the arbitrator shall base his decisions solely on the facts determined in accordance with 3.70.100(B) and applicable law.

In December 1989, the Municipality filed a complaint for declaratory relief in superior court, seeking to have the binding arbitration provision of the Code declared unconstitutional. At the time the complaint was filed, the Municipality and the Anchorage Police Department Employees Association (APDEA) were in the process of negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement. Negotiations between the Municipality and the International Association of Fire Fighters, Local 1264 (IAFF) were also anticipated in January, 1990. The Municipality argued that the compulsory binding interest arbitration provisions constituted an impermissible delegation of the Anchorage Assembly's legislative authority to a politically unaccountable private third party. Additionally, the Municipality alleged that the provisions in question were unconstitutional because they provided no meaningful standards to guide the arbitrator and did not provide for meaningful judicial review.

The Municipality moved for summary judgment, as did APDEA and IAFF. The superior court, concluding that the binding interest arbitration provisions of the Code were constitutional, granted summary judgment in favor of APDEA and IAFF. The superior court also awarded 100% of requested attorney's fees, totalling $22,634.50, to APDEA and 70% of IAFF's requested attorney's fees, totalling $6,309.75. The Municipality appeals the grants of summary judgment in favor of APDEA and IAFF and the award of full attorney's fees to APDEA.

DISCUSSION

I. Does AMC 3.70.110, providing for binding interest arbitration, constitute an unconstitutional delegation of legislative authority?

The Municipality argues that the Code's binding interest arbitration provisions, delegating legislative authority to a politically unaccountable arbitrator, violate the Alaska Constitution. Alternatively, the Municipality contends that the Code is unconstitutional because its provisions fail to provide standards to guide the arbitrator.

We begin our analysis with the presumption that the Code provisions at issue are constitutional. 7 State v. Fairbanks North Star Borough, 736 P.2d 1140, 1142 (Alaska 1987); City of Anchorage v. Richardson Vista Corp., 17 Alaska 23, 242 F.2d 276, 285 (9th Cir.1957) ("where an ordinance is passed relating to a matter within the legislative power of the municipality all presumptions are in favor of its constitutionality, and reasonableness"). Further, as we stated in Fairbanks North Star Borough, "[t]his court is under a duty to construe a statute to avoid constitutional infirmity where possible." 736 P.2d at 1142.

Our analysis of this issue addresses three subsidiary questions.

A. Is it permissible for the Municipal Assembly to delegate its legislative power?

The Municipal Assembly's delegation of its legislative power is not unconstitutional per se. The Alaska Constitution, Article X, § 2 provides in part that "[a]ll local government powers shall be vested in boroughs and cities." This grant of powers is broad, as evidenced by the Alaska Constitution, Article X, § 1, which states that "[a] liberal construction shall be given to the powers of local government units."

Page 1084

The powers of the Municipal Assembly are defined by the Alaska Constitution, Art. X, and the Home Rule Charter of the Municipality of Anchorage. Neither the Municipal Charter nor the Alaska Constitution expressly limit the Assembly's authority to delegate its legislative authority. Rather, the Alaska Constitution, Art. X, § 11 states, "[a] home rule borough or city may exercise all legislative powers not prohibited by law or Charter." It follows that the right of the Assembly to delegate powers to govern the affairs of the municipality will not be strictly construed, for "[w]ithout the power to delegate duty and discretion the affairs of the [c]ity could not be carried on." City of Anchorage v. Richardson Vista Corp., 242 F.2d 276, 285 (9th Cir.1957).

The Municipality asserts that the Code delegates the Assembly's legislative power to a private individual who is not politically accountable. In support of this position, the Municipality relies on the preamble to the Municipal Charter which states one purpose of the establishment of the Municipality was "to form more responsive government and to secure maximum local control of local affairs." However, we have rejected the non-delegation doctrine in Kenai Peninsula Borough School District v. Kenai Peninsula Education Ass'n where we noted:

While courts in an earlier era often held laws unconstitutional on the ground that they delegated legislative power to private persons or groups ... the trend has been to uphold such delegations, even when the power is delegated to a group with an economic interest in the decisions to be made.

572 P.2d 416, 420 (Alaska 1977) (citations omitted).

Kenai Peninsula comports with earlier cases in which we upheld delegations of legislative authority. See Boehl v. Sabre Jet Room, Inc., 349 P.2d 585, 588 (Alaska 1960) (declaring that the delegation of state legislative powers is not unconstitutional; "a strict theory of separation of powers ignores [the] realities and the practical necessities of government.... The real question, then, is not...

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16 practice notes
  • State v. Albert, No. S-5754
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alaska (US)
    • June 23, 1995
    ...and the burden of proving unconstitutionality is on the party challenging them. Anchorage v. Anchorage Police Dep't Employees Ass'n, 839 P.2d 1080, 1083 (Alaska 1992); Citizens for the Preservation of Kenai River v. Sheffield, 758 P.2d 624, 625 (Alaska 1988); Bonjour v. Bonjour, 592 P.2d 12......
  • City of Allentown v. Int'l Ass'n of Fire Fighters Local 302, No. 24 MAP 2016
    • United States
    • Pennsylvania Supreme Court
    • March 28, 2017
    ...could be tantamount to performing a legislative function, see generally Municipality of Anchorage v. Anchorage Police Dep't Emps. Ass'n, 839 P.2d 1080 (Alaska 1992) (addressing one such non-delegation challenge), and there appears to be little guidance within Act 111 to channel such policy-......
  • Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 165 v. City of Choctaw, Nos. 85460
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oklahoma
    • July 9, 1996
    ...from other jurisdictions which have upheld binding interest arbitration. Municipality of Anchorage v. Anchorage Police Dept. Empl. Ass'n, 839 P.2d 1080 (Alaska 1992); City of Detroit v. Detroit Police Officers, 408 Mich. 410, 294 N.W.2d 68 (1980); City of Amsterdam v. Helsby, 37 N.Y.2d 19, ......
  • Griswold v. City of Homer, No. S–13734.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alaska (US)
    • June 10, 2011
    ...he was a “person aggrieved” under the statute. See supra note 4. FN66. Municipality of Anchorage v. Anchorage Police Dep't Emps. Ass'n, 839 P.2d 1080, 1084 (Alaska 1992) (quoting City of Anchorage v. Richardson Vista Corp., 242 F.2d 276, 285 (9th Cir.1957)) (alteration in...
  • Request a trial to view additional results
16 cases
  • State v. Albert
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alaska (US)
    • June 23, 1995
    ...constitutional and the burden of proving unconstitutionality is on the party challenging them. Anchorage v. Anchorage Police Dep't Employees Ass'n, 839 P.2d 1080, 1083 (Alaska 1992); Citizens for the Preservation of Kenai River v. Sheffield, 758 P.2d 624, 625 (Alaska 1988); Bonjour v. Bonjo......
  • City of Allentown v. Int'l Ass'n of Fire Fighters Local 302, 24 MAP 2016
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • March 28, 2017
    ...could be tantamount to performing a legislative function, see generally Municipality of Anchorage v. Anchorage Police Dep't Emps. Ass'n, 839 P.2d 1080 (Alaska 1992) (addressing one such non-delegation challenge), and there appears to be little guidance within Act 111 to channel such policy-......
  • Griswold v. City of Homer, S–13734.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alaska (US)
    • June 10, 2011
    ...was not evidence that he was a “person aggrieved” under the statute. See supra note 4. FN66. Municipality of Anchorage v. Anchorage Police Dep't Emps. Ass'n, 839 P.2d 1080, 1084 (Alaska 1992) (quoting City of Anchorage v. Richardson Vista Corp., 242 F.2d 276, 285 (9th Cir.1957)) (alteration......
  • Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 165 v. City of Choctaw, s. 85460
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oklahoma
    • July 9, 1996
    ...... board to the voters of the municipality for their selection by requesting a special ... the Legislature attempted to give the employees relief in the event their collective bargaining ... Municipality of Anchorage v. Anchorage Police Dept. Empl. Ass'n, 839 P.2d ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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