Sumpter v. City of Moberly

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Missouri
Citation645 S.W.2d 359
Docket NumberNo. 64014,64014
Parties112 L.R.R.M. (BNA) 2787 Larry SUMPTER, Terry Riles, Mike Congdon, John Stufflebean, Eugene Sims, Earl Lawson, Douglas Henry, Andrew Morrison, Robert Akers, Robert Dutton, Ronald Combs and Raymond Hill, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. CITY OF MOBERLY, Missouri, Defendant-Respondent.
Decision Date16 December 1982

N.E. Brown, Elizabeth A. Keller, Huntsville, for plaintiffs-appellants.

Michael E. Kaemmerer, St. Louis, Marion E. Lamb, Moberly, for defendant-respondent.

John H. Goffstein, Clayton, Rhonda C. Thomas, Columbia, Darold E. Crotzer, Jr., Clayton, Robert J. Connerton, Theodore T. Green, Washington, D.C., Howard C. Wright, Springfield, Charles A. Werner, St. Louis, Louis J. Leonatti, Mexico, John Ashcroft, Atty. Gen., Carl S. Yendes, Asst. Atty. Gen., Jefferson City, amicus curiae.

JAMES A. FINCH, Jr., Senior Judge.

Plaintiffs, members of the Professional Firefighters Association of Moberly, Missouri, Local 2671, filed suit seeking injunctive relief to prevent defendant City of Moberly from violating certain provisions of what plaintiffs claim is a binding collective bargaining agreement. The City filed a motion to dismiss the petition on the ground that it failed to state a claim on which relief could be granted in that the Acting pursuant to the provisions of §§ 105.500-105.530 RSMo 1978, 1 sometimes popularly referred to as the Public Sector Labor Law, firefighters employed by the city formed and joined the Professional Firefighters Association of Moberly, Missouri, Local 2671, a labor organization which was certified by the State Mediation Board as the exclusive representative for the firefighters. That organization, as authorized by § 105.510, 2 presented proposals relative to salaries and other conditions of employment to the City of Moberly.

document relied upon was not an enforceable contract binding upon the City. The court sustained the motion and dismissed the petition. Plaintiffs appealed to the Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District, which reversed and remanded for trial. On application the case was ordered transferred to this Court and is decided by us as though here on direct appeal. We utilize portions of the Court of Appeals opinion without the use of quotation marks. We affirm.

Thereafter, pursuant to § 105.520 3 the results of discussions with the City concerning the union's proposals were incorporated in a written Memorandum of Understanding which was presented to the City Council. It covered wages, overtime pay, call back pay, sick leave, holidays and other allowances, duty tours, training, and many other subjects beginning July 1, 1980, with a provision for automatic renewal every two years in the absence of notice of intention to modify. In May, 1980 the City Council enacted an ordinance adopting the provisions of the Memorandum of Understanding "as the terms and working conditions for Local 2671" for the term of that document.

On January 28, 1981, the City Manager of Moberly sent a memorandum to all fire department personnel that effective February 1, 1981, the work schedule for the department would be 24 hours on duty, followed by 48 hours off duty. This represented a change from the schedule in the Memorandum of Agreement which called for 24 hours on duty every other day for 12 days, followed by 7 days off duty. The Manager's Memorandum stated that one additional firefighter would be hired and that the change in schedule was "necessary to provide adequate on-duty personnel to mann (sic) the fire stations, to accommodate 911 emergency calls and to effectuate a logical training schedule." It went on to advise that by reason of "inability of the Training Committee to agree on a Training Program" a program therein outlined would be instituted in lieu of the in-service training program set out in the Memorandum of Understanding. The City Manager's notice recited that it had been approved by the Mayor and City Council.

Plaintiffs allege that the notice from the City Manager constitutes a unilateral change in duty tours and training schedules from those specified in the agreement negotiated between the City and Local 2671, and that such unilateral acts violate the terms of said agreement. They seek to have the City enjoined from making such changes or The question thus presented on this appeal is whether a memorandum of the results of discussions pursuant to § 105.520, after approval or adoption of those results by the City Council, constitutes a binding collective bargaining agreement which is enforceable on the City of Moberly.

any other unilateral changes from the terms of the agreement as embodied in the Memorandum of Understanding.

The question of whether a Missouri city may enter into a binding collective bargaining agreement with its employees was addressed at length in Springfield v. Clouse, 356 Mo. 1239, 206 S.W.2d 539 (1947). That case involved an appeal in a declaratory judgment action wherein the City of Springfield sought a determination of its power to make collective bargaining contracts covering wages, hours, and working conditions with labor unions representing its employees. This Court held that it could not make such contracts, concluding that under the separation of powers doctrine as enunciated in the Missouri Constitution, the whole matter of qualifications, compensation, tenure and working conditions of employees are matters for legislative determination which, absent constitutional authorization, cannot be delegated or contracted away.

In the course of that decision the Court recognized that all citizens have the right under both federal and state constitutions to peaceably assemble, to speak freely, and to present their views to any public officer or legislative body. It held that employees have such rights in connection with establishment of their pay and working conditions. However, said the court, such rights are not to be confused with or equated to collective bargaining as that term is usually understood in the private sector.

In so ruling, the court considered the provisions of Article I, § 29 of the Missouri Constitution, which provides "that employees shall have the right to organize and to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing." The Court, for reasons detailed in it's opinion, concluded that this provision applies only to the private sector and is not applicable to public employees.

Subsequently, in Glidewell v. Hughey, 314 S.W.2d 749 (Mo. banc 1958), this Court again discussed whether public employees have a right to collective bargaining. In that case a declaratory judgment was sought as to whether, after Springfield adopted a city charter, unions could enter into collective bargaining agreements with Springfield's board of public utilities respecting wages, hours and working conditions of employees of the city's public utilities. The Court observed that under Springfield's charter there was no provision for separation of corporate activity involving utilities from work concerning other governmental functions. Hence, such matters could not become the subject of bargaining and contract between the board of public utilities and its employees. The Court said, l.c. 736:

"... As we held in the Clouse case, § 29 Art. I, Constitution, does not confer any collective bargaining rights upon public officers or employees in their relations with municipal government and we hold that it is not applicable to the situation in this case because there is no such separation of the public utilities of the city from its general governmental functions and legislative powers as would be required to make it applicable. Therefore, our conclusion is that under the present charter of the city the whole matter of qualifications, tenure, compensation and working conditions in the city's public utilities involves the exercise of legislative powers and cannot become a matter of bargaining and contract."

Thereafter, the present Public Sector Labor Law was enacted. Its constitutionality and its effect were considered in State ex rel. Missey v. City of Cabool, 441 S.W.2d 35 (Mo.1969). In ruling that the act is constitutional, the Court said, l.c. 41:

"The general assembly is presumed to be aware of existing declarations of law by the supreme court when it enacts law on the same subject, Mack Motor Truck Corp. v. Wolfe, Mo.App., 303 S.W.2d 697 The Court analyzed the act and explained its ruling in these words, l.c. 41:

                701;  Jacoby v. Missouri Valley Drainage Dist., 349 Mo. 818, 163 S.W.2d 930, 938;  and, without indication to the contrary the general assembly must have had the intent to enact this legislation in accord with constitutional principles previously enunciated in City of Springfield v. Clouse, supra, and reiterated in Glidewell v. Hughey, Mo., 314 S.W.2d 749.   For these reasons, it is constitutional."  (Emphasis added)

"... The act does not constitute a delegation or bargaining away to the union of the legislative power of the public body, and therefore does no violence to City of Springfield v. Clouse, supra, 206 S.W.2d l.c. 543, 545-6[8, 9], because the prior discretion in the legislative body to adopt, modify or reject outright the results of the discussions is untouched. The public employer is not required to agree but is required only to 'meet, confer and discuss', a duty already enjoined upon such employer prior to the enactment of this legislation. City of Springfield v. Clouse, supra, l.c. 542-3[1-3]. The act provides only a procedure for communication between the organization selected by public employees and their employer without requiring adoption of any agreement reached ..." (Emphasis added).

The Public Sector Labor Law was interpreted again in Curators of the University of Missouri v. Public Service Employees Local No. 45, 520 S.W.2d 54 (Mo. banc 1975). In that case the Curators,...

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