State v. Florida Police Benev. Ass'n, Inc.

Decision Date24 December 1992
Docket NumberNo. 77842,77842
Citation613 So.2d 415
Parties142 L.R.R.M. (BNA) 2224, 18 Fla. L. Week. S1 STATE of Florida, et al., Appellants, v. FLORIDA POLICE BENEVOLENT ASSOCIATION, INC., et al., Appellees.
CourtFlorida Supreme Court

Robert A. Butterworth, Atty. Gen., and Brian S. Duffy and Kimberly J. Tucker, Asst. Attys. Gen., Tallahassee, for appellants.

Gene "Hal" Johnson and Donald D. Slesnick II, Tallahassee, for appellees.

GRIMES, Justice.

We have for review State v. Florida Police Benevolent Association, 580 So.2d 619 (Fla. 1st DCA 1991), which declared a proviso in a state appropriations bill unconstitutional. We have jurisdiction under article V, section 3(b)(1) of the Florida Constitution.

Pursuant to chapter 447 of the Florida Statutes (1987), the governor entered into collective bargaining agreements with several unions. The agreements were to be effective between July 1, 1987, and June 30, 1990. These agreements incorporated by reference the then-existing provisions of section 22A-8 of the Florida Administrative Code, which governs attendance and leave of career service employees. Under this section, employees were entitled to 17.333 hours per month of annual leave and four hours and twenty minutes per month of sick leave. If an employee accumulated more than 240 hours of annual leave in a year, the employee had the option of converting the excess hours into sick leave or receiving a cash payment for one-half of the excess hours. Finally, the rules provided that sick leave could only be used when the employee's illness was verified in writing by a physician.

In 1988, the legislature enacted its general appropriations act. Ch. 88-555, Laws of Fla. Section 9.3.A(5) of the act contained proviso language that altered the leave policy for career service employees, and thus the leave awards for which the unions had bargained. Under the proviso, annual leave was decreased from 17.333 hours per month to thirteen hours per month. Sick leave was increased from four hours and twenty minutes per month to eight hours per month. All accumulated annual leave in excess of 240 hours was cancelled, thus eliminating the cash-payment and sick-leave conversion options. Finally, the requirement of obtaining a written verification of illness for employees claiming sick leave was eliminated. This last measure apparently was aimed at preventing employees from being paid for time off necessary to visit the doctor to obtain the written verification.

The unions contend that the legislature's actions abridged their right to collectively bargain, which is guaranteed by the Florida Constitution. Both the trial court and the district court of appeal agreed. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the unions, and the district court of appeal affirmed the judgment, finding section 9.3.A(5) of the Appropriations Act to be invalid under article I, section 6.

In addressing this issue, we begin by examining the extent of the right of public employees to collectively bargain. In Dade County Classroom Teachers' Association v. Ryan, 225 So.2d 903, 905 (Fla.1969), this Court construed article I, section 6 1 to include public employees. Three years later we threatened to impose judicial guidelines if the legislature failed to pass legislation implementing the right of public employees to engage in collective bargaining. Dade County Classroom Teachers Ass'n v. Legislature, 269 So.2d 684 (Fla.1972). Thereafter, the legislature enacted Part II of Chapter 447 pertaining to public employees.

While this Court has been vigilant in upholding the right of public employees to collectively bargain, we have also recognized that public employee bargaining is not the same as private bargaining. Thus, in United Teachers of Dade v. Dade County School Board, 500 So.2d 508, 512 (Fla.1986), we stated:

Our holding in Ryan that "public employees have the same rights of collective bargaining as are granted private employees," 225 So.2d at 905, did not, however, mean that there exists no differences between public and private employee bargaining. Indeed, we recognized as much in City of Tallahassee [v. Public Employee Relations Comm'n, 410 So.2d 487 (Fla.1981) ] by stating that "[i]t would be impractical to require that collective bargaining procedures ... be identical in the public and the private sectors." 410 So.2d at 491. Myriad distinctions, not just those of procedures, exist between public and private collective bargaining, and have been noted by the highest courts of several sister states. See, e.g., West Hartford Education Association, Inc. v. DeCourcy, 162 Conn. 566, 295 A.2d 526 (1972) (private sector view of wages, hours, and terms and conditions of employment is not easily superimposed on the field of education); Spokane Education Association v. Barnes, 83 Wash.2d 366, 517 P.2d 1362 (1974) (area of management control in private sector different than the duty imposed on those who manage schools). We find wise the counsel of Justice Nix, speaking for the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania:

[W]e are not suggesting that the experience gained in the private sector is of no value here, rather we are stressing that analogies have limited application and the experiences gained in the private employment sector will not necessarily provide an infallible basis for a monolithic model for public employment.

Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board v. State College Area School District, 461 Pa. 494, 500, 337 A.2d 262, 264-265 (Pa.1975).

See also City of Tallahassee v. Public Employee Relations Comm'n, 410 So.2d 487, 490-91 (Fla.1981).

In fact, courts and commentators uniformly agree that public bargaining is inherently different from private bargaining. For example, in Antry v. Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board, 195 Ill.App.3d 221, 141 Ill.Dec. 945, 552 N.E.2d 313 (1990), the court addressed the necessity of political activities by public union representatives in order to achieve what private sector unions can achieve solely at the bargaining table.

[C]ourts have noted one important difference between collective bargaining in the public sector, as opposed to the private sector, is that in the public sector, it is often necessary for a labor union to, in effect, obtain approval of a proposed contract by a legislative body through appropriation of the funds required to provide the wage and salary increases called for by the contract, in addition to obtaining the assent of the employing governmental agency or department to the terms of the contract.

Id. 141 Ill.Dec. at 975, 552 N.E.2d at 343. See also Daniel P. Sullivan, Public Employee Labor Law Sec. 11.4 (1969) (public sector employees engaging in wage negotiations are in a different position than private employees, because the employer is not the final authority for public employees--the legislature is).

Indeed, the Missouri Supreme Court found the differences between public and private employees to be so overwhelming that it held that the Missouri Constitution's collective bargaining provision 2 did not apply to public employees at all. City of Springfield v. Clouse, 206 S.W.2d 539 (Mo.1947). Most importantly, the court noted, private employers can be bound by collective bargaining agreements, while legislative discretion cannot be bargained away. Id. at 545. The court decided that the constitutional provision could not apply to public employees because a collective bargaining agreement in this context would amount to no more than an expression of the employees' desires for the lawmaker's consideration and guidance. See also Communications Workers v. Union County Welfare Board, 126 N.J.Super. 517, 315 A.2d 709, 715 (App.Div.1974) (in interpreting statute implementing constitutional right to collectively bargain, which itself specifically differentiates between public and private employees, court noted "salient differences between public and private employment relations which necessarily affect the characteristics of collective bargaining in the public sector").

The fact that public employee bargaining is protected under Florida's Constitution does not require us to ignore universally recognized distinctions between public and private employees. The constitutional right to bargain must be construed in accordance with all provisions of the constitution. Surely it was not intended to alter fundamental constitutional principles, such as the separation of powers doctrine. Under the Florida Constitution, exclusive control over public funds rest solely with the legislature. Art. VII, Sec. 1(c), Fla. Const. ("No money shall be drawn from the treasury except in pursuance of appropriation made by law."). This fact in and of itself necessitates a realization that public and private bargaining is inherently different.

Unlike the case of a private employer, whose agreement with a union binds the employer to fund its terms, the public employer, deemed by statute to be the governor, cannot so bind the guardian of its funds, the legislature. 3 The legislature and the district courts of appeal have interpreted article I, section 6, in this manner. Thus, section 447.309(2) provides that "[t]he failure of the legislative body to appropriate funds sufficient to fund the collective bargaining agreement shall not constitute, or be evidence of, any unfair labor practice." Further, in Pinellas County Police Benevolent Association v. Hillsborough County Aviation Authority, 347 So.2d 801, 803 (Fla. 2d DCA 1977), the court said:

A public employee's constitutional right to bargain collectively is not and cannot be coextensive with an employee's right to so bargain in the private sector. Certain limitations on the former's right are necessarily involved. For instance, a wage agreement with a public employer is obviously subject to the necessary public funding which, in turn, necessarily involves the powers, duties and discretion vested in those public officials responsible for the...

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