Professional Fire Fighters, Inc. v. City of Los Angeles

Decision Date04 March 1963
Docket NumberNo. 26743,AFL-CIO,26743
Citation29 Cal.Rptr. 89
CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
Parties53 L.R.R.M. (BNA) 2431, 47 Lab.Cas. P 50,782 PROFESSIONAL FIRE FIGHTERS, INC., a non-profit corporation, aka Local 748, International Association of Fire Fighters,, and William V. Wheatley, Individually and in a representative capacity for and on behalf of the employees of the City of Los Angeles employed within the Fire Department, who are members of Professional Fire Fighters, Inc., Plaintiffs and Appellants, v. CITY OF LOS ANGELES, a municipal corporation, Defendant and Respondent. Civ.

Bodle & Fogle, George E. Bodle, Daniel Fogel and Lawrence Drasin, Los Angeles, for appellants.

Roger Arnebergh, City Atty., Bourke Jones, Asst. City Atty., and Marcus E. Crahan, Jr., Deputy City Atty., for respondent.

FOURT, Justice.

This is an appeal by plaintiffs from a judgment declaring the rights and duties of the parties herein with respect to Labor Code, sections 1960-1963. 1

The substance of the trial court's determination is that (a) the aforesaid sections of the Labor Code are repugnant to the provisions of article I, section 21, of the California Constitution, and (b) that the aforesaid sections are not lawfully applicable to defendant as a freeholders' chartered city in view of the provisions of article XI, sections 6, 8, 8 1/2, 12 and 13, and article XX, section 16, of the California Constitution.

A resume of the essential facts is as follows:

Defendant City of Los Angeles is a municipal corporation, organized and existing under the Constitution and laws of the State of California, and holding a freeholders' charter (California stats. 1925, p. 1024 et seq., as amended to date).

In the Los Angeles City Charter there are created several departments of city government, which departments are under the control and management of boards of five commissioners. The fire department is one of these departments (charter secs. 70 and 71). The charter provides that the board of each such department, including the fire department, shall have the power to supervise, control, regulate and manage the department, and to make and enforce all necessary and desirable rules and regulations therefor, and for the exercise of the powers conferred upon such departments by the charter (charter sec. 78). The charter also provides for a classified civil service system for all but a few exempt employees (charter secs. 100-126); and expressly includes fire department employees within the system (charter sec. 111).

The chief administrative officer of the fire department is designated as the chief engineer of the fire department. He is subject to appointment under the civil service system and removable by the board of fire commissioners under the procedure set forth in section 135 of the charter and is subject to the provisions of the charter, the rules of the department and the instructions of said commission. He has the power and duty to administer the affairs of the department as it chief administrative officer, to appoint, discharge, suspend or transfer the employees of the department, and to issue instructions to said employees in the line of their duties; to expend the funds of the department in accordance with the provisions of the budget, to recommend to the commission matters with respect to the budget, to certify all expenditures of the department to the chief accounting employee and to exercise such further powers in the administration of the department as may be conferred upon him by the commission (charter secs. 134 and 80).

In addition to the charter sections and certain ordinances (i. e. ordinance No. 77,738 and No. 89,935) the fire commission of the respondent city has adopted certain rules and regulations which are apposite to the within action. The substance of these rules (i. e. sec. 15, subsecs. (h), (k) and (l) of the rules and regulations of the fire department) is that no member of the fire department shall belong to any organization which will in any manner divide his loyalty to the department, City of Los Angeles or the United States, or which seeks to subvert any municipal, state or federal law, rule, policy, or regulation of the department or directive of the board; but that organizations and committees of members existing or created for purposes consistent with the rules and regulations of the fire department may apply to the commission for official recognition as representatives of their membership, and may present grievances and complaints or suggestions for the good of the service through the chief engineer to the commission by delegations of not more than six members. These rules also provide that members of the department may appeal in writing through the chief engineer to the commission with respect to matters in which they believe they have been unjustly or unfairly treated.

Plaintiff union is an organization composed of some of the members of the Los Angeles City Fire Department. It has been officially recognized by the city fire commission under the aforesaid rules, and furthermore has been designated under the provisions of ordinance No. 77,738, as an organization for which a city employee may authorize the payment of payroll deductions of fees, dues, assessment or contributions. Plaintiff Wheatley is an officer of plaintiff union and a member of defendant's fire department.

On February 20, 1962, plaintiffs filed a first amended complaint for declaratory relief and injunction. 2 It was alleged in substance that defendant, through its officers and agents employed in the Los Angeles City Fire Department, has denied employees of the department promotions ahd has given employees unfavorable work assignments solely because of their membership and activity on behalf of plaintiff union; has adopted a general policy of discrimination against those employees who are members of the union; and has urged, advised an counseled the employees of the department not to join plaintiff union, or if already members of said union, to resign therefrom, and in this connection, has threatened said employees that they would be denied promotion in the department and otherwise discriminated against if they joined or continued membership in plaintiff union.

On March 2, 1962, defendant filed a demurrer and also its answer to the first amended complaint. The substance of the answer is that defendant denied each of the pertinent allegations and then alleged that neither it, nor the city council, nor the city board of fire commissioners, nor the chief engineer of the city fire department, nor anyone authorized to act for them, has adopted or issued any rule or acted otherwise to prohibit, forbid, obstruct or interfere with the joining of any firefighters in defendant's employ, or by any other employee of the city fire department, or any bona fide labor organization of their choice, or the joining particularly of plaintiff union. It was further alleged that the city council, the board of fire commissioners and the chief engineer of the city fire department have received and considered presentation of grievances and recommendations, on such matters as were within their respective authority, regarding wages, salaries, hours and working conditions from firefighters, and other employees of the city fire department, and from organizations including plaintiff union, in which such firefighters, and other employees, have joined; that they have discussed such grievances and recommendations with such employees and organizations, and that they continue ready to receive and discuss such grievances and recommendations from and with such employees and such organizations, including plaintiff union.

The hearing of the demurrer was continued several times. A minute order dated March 23, 1962, discloses that the demurrer was submitted subject to being reset for further hearing.

On March 30, 1962, defendant city filed a notice of motion for summary judgment along with points and authorities and several declarations. Defendant sought a judgment '1. Declaring that plaintiffs, and each of them, take nothing by reason of their First Amended Complaint for Declaratory Relief * * * and dismissing said complaint; or 2. Declaring that Sections 1960-1963 of the Labor Code * * * and each of them, are not lawfully applicable to the City of Los Angeles as a freeholders' Chartered city, and that said City is not required by law to comply with the provisions contained therein.'

On April 23, 1962, plaintiffs filed a notice of motion for summary judgment seeking a judgment 'declaring that Sections 1960-1963 of the Labor Code * * * and each of them, are lawfully applicable to the City of Los Angeles as a freeholders' Chartered city, and that said City is required by law to comply with the provisions contained therein. Said motion will be made upon the ground that the only issues involved in the Second Cause of Action are issues of law, and that Sections 1960 through 1963 of the Labor Code as a matter of law are applicable to chartered cities.'

The minute order dated April 23, 1962, disclosed that defendant city's motion for summary judgment and plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment were submitted. 3

On May 11, 1962, the trial court filed a fifty page complete and thoroughly comprehensive memorandum of decision upon motions for summary judgment and upon general demurrer. The judgment was filed May 11, 1962, and entered on May 15, 1962.

The precise issue to be resolved on this appeal is whether Labor Code sections 1960- 1963 inclusive, are applicable to defendant City of Los Angeles. 4

Defendant city is a municipal corporation, organized and existing under the Constitution and laws of the State of California, and holding a freeholders' charter. Defendant's charter was adopted and approved by the Legislature on January 22, 1925, and became effective on July 1, 1925....

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