Van Buren Public School Dist. v. Wayne County Circuit Judge, AFL-CI

CourtCourt of Appeal of Michigan (US)
Writing for the CourtBRONSON
Citation232 N.W.2d 278,61 Mich.App. 6
Decision Date27 May 1975
Docket NumberNo. 1,P,15474 and 18493,AFL-CI,Docket Nos. 15473
Parties, 90 L.R.R.M. (BNA) 2615, 77 Lab.Cas. P 53,720 VAN BUREN PUBLIC SCHOOL DISTRICT, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. WAYNE COUNTY CIRCUIT JUDGE, Defendant-Appellee. and METROPOLITAN COUNCIL NO. 23 and Local 1014, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees,laintiffs-Appellees, v. VAN BUREN PUBLIC SCHOOLS, Defendant-Appellant

Page 278

232 N.W.2d 278
61 Mich.App. 6, 90 L.R.R.M. (BNA) 2615,
77 Lab.Cas. P 53,720
VAN BUREN PUBLIC SCHOOL DISTRICT, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
WAYNE COUNTY CIRCUIT JUDGE, Defendant-Appellee.
and
METROPOLITAN COUNCIL NO. 23 and Local 1014, American
Federation of State, County and Municipal
Employees, AFL-CIO, Plaintiffs-Appellees,
v.
VAN BUREN PUBLIC SCHOOLS, Defendant-Appellant.
Docket Nos. 15473, 15474 and 18493.
Court of Appeals of Michigan, Division No. 1.
May 27, 1975.
Released for Publication Sept. 4, 1975.

Page 281

[61 Mich.App. 11] Dykema, Gossett, Spencer, Goodnow & Trigg by Paul H. Townsend, Jr., Ronald J. Santo, James T. Ellis, Detroit, Tinkham, Snyder, MacDonald & Wilder by John E. MacDonald, Wayne, for Van Buren Sch.

Zwerdling, Maurer, Diggs & Papp by George M. Maurer, Jr. and Anna J. Diggs, Detroit, for Local 1014.

Frank J. Kelley, Atty. Gen., Robert A. Derengoski, Sol. Gen., Francis W. Edwards, Asst. Atty. Gen., for Mich. Empl. Relations Comm.

Before R. B. BURNS, P.J., and BRONSON and CAVANAGH, JJ.

BRONSON, Judge.

These two cases involve the same parties and have been consolidated for decision on appeal. Together they present important questions concerning the method our Legislature has devised for resolving disputes between public employees and their employers and the extent to which the traditional powers of equity courts can be invoked to aid the disputants without interfering with that statutory procedure.

The Van Buren Public School District is a public employer within the meaning of the public employment relations act (PERA), M.C.L.A. § 423.201 Et seq.; M.S.A. § 17.455(1) Et seq. Prior to the 1972--1973 school year, Van Buren had owned, operated and maintained a transportation system for the busing of about 95% Of its approximately 8,000 students. It had employed some 58 persons to drive its buses. These bus drivers had since 1965 been members of, and represented for purposes of collective[61 Mich.App. 12] bargaining 1 by, Metropolitan Council 23, and its Local No. 1014, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO. The last contract between Van Buren and the union covered the school year 1971--1972 with a termination date of August 25, 1972. It is undisputed that the union bus drivers are public employees within the meaning of PERA.

On April 12, 1972 the president of Local 1014 requested in writing the opening of negotiations on a new contract for the 1972--1973 school year. Van Buren did not respond to this demand. Several subsequent oral inquiries by the union president followed in May and June, 1972. A representative of Van Buren indicated in response that he was presently unable to arrange a satisfactory meeting date for Van Buren's negotiating team.

In early July, 1972 Van Buren advertised for bids on the operation of its school bus transportation system. National School Bus Service, Inc. submitted a bid, and on July 10, 1972 was awarded a subcontract at a meeting of the Van Buren School Board.

The following day, July 11, 1972, Van Buren notified its bus drivers by letter of the decision to subcontract the busing of its students. The letter suggested that the drivers contact National about 'employment opportunities'. Approximately 50% Of Van Buren's 58 bus drivers were ultimately hired by National for the 1972--1973 school year.

On July 27, 1972 the union filed an action in Wayne County Circuit Court seeking injunctive and other relief for Van Buren's alleged failure to honor its contract with the union. On August 7, [61 Mich.App. 13] 1972 the union filed with the Michigan Employment Relations Commission (MERC) an unfair labor practice charge, alleging violations of § 10(a) and (e) of PERA. 2

Page 282

A hearing on the request for preliminary injunctive relief was held on August 18, 1972 and a preliminary injunction restraining Van Buren from terminating the employment of its bus drivers until a determination by MERC was granted by written order on August 25, 1972. Emergency leave to appeal was sought in this Court and denied on September 6, 1972.

On August 30, 1972 a hearing was held on the MERC complaint. On January 22, 1973 the administrative law judge issued a written opinion in which he found that Van Buren had engaged in an unfair labor practice in failing to bargain with the union about the decision to subcontract the busing of the students. Van Buren appealed to the full commission, which by written order dated October 1, 1973 adopted the decision of the administrative law judge in its entirety. The appeal in No. 18493 followed. 3

In the meantime, the union on September 5, 1972 filed a petition for an order to show cause why Van Buren should not be held in contempt for violating the preliminary injunction. At a hearing on September 12, 1972, the circuit court declined to find Van Buren in contempt but instead reinstated its order and rescheduled the hearing on the petition for show cause. At a hearing held on October 4, 1972, Van Buren was found in contempt of the preliminary injunction. The appeal in Nos. 15473 and 15474 followed.

[61 Mich.App. 14] I.

Van Buren first claims that the circuit court was without authority to enter its preliminary injunction because jurisdiction over unfair labor practice charges is by statute reserved to MERC.

Wisely, the union does not dispute the latter proposition. It is clear that MERC has been given exclusive jurisdiction over all unfair labor practices. M.C.L.A. § 423.216; M.S.A. § 17.455(16), Labor Mediation Board v. Jackson County Road Commissioners, 365 Mich. 645, 114 N.W.2d 183 (1962), Detroit Board of Education v. Detroit Federation of Teachers, 55 Mich.App. 499, 223 N.W.2d 23 (1974).

However, the circuit court has not here sought to exercise jurisdiction over the merits of the unfair labor practice charge. The circuit court did not purport to adjudicate the questions before MERC or oust MERC from jurisdiction to decide them. 4 The preliminary injunction was sought in aid of MERC's jurisdiction, not in opposition to it. Indeed, the language of the court's order makes this purpose plain:

'It is ordered that the defendant, the Van Buren Public School District, its agents, employees and servants be and it hereby is restrained from termination of the employment of the drivers of the school district transportation department, Until hearing of this matter after final determination of case No. C--72--H137 of the Michigan Employment Relations Commission which is set for hearing on August 30, 1972 and based upon the same transaction as is this lawsuit, or until further order of this court.' (Emphasis supplied.)

[61 Mich.App. 15] We are aware of no authority which would strip an equity court of the power to issue a preliminary injunction under these circumstances. Our circuit courts possess the traditional power of equity courts, M.C.L.A. § 600.601; M.S.A. § 27A.601, and are regularly requested to grant injunctive relief. Indeed, it is not unusual for circuit

Page 283

courts to grant preliminary injunctions in labor disputes. See Niedzialek v. Barbers Union, 331 Mich. 296, 49 N.W.2d 273 (1951).

Van Buren seems to argue that M.C.L.A. § 423.216; M.S.A. § 17.455(16) creates an exclusive method for obtaining injunctive relief in cases involving public employees. That section sets forth in great detail the procedure to be followed once an unfair labor practice charge has been filed. In particular, M.C.L.A. § 423.216(h); M.S.A. § 17.455(16)(h) provides, in pertinent part:

'The board shall have power * * * to petition (a) circuit court * * * for appropriate temporary relief or restraining order, in accordance with the general court rules, and the court shall have jurisdiction to grant to the board such temporary relief or restraining order as it deems just and proper.'

This section must be read only as a grant of authority to MERC to request judicial assistance and not as an implicit denial of the historic right of aggrieved private individuals to obtain such relief. We are confident that the Legislature here intended to create another technique for harnessing the powers of equity courts, to empower MERC to seek and obtain equitable relief. Absent such an enabling statute, MERC would be unable to protect its interest in the outcome of a dispute, once that interest is triggered by the filing of a charge, if the charging party decided that the protection of [61 Mich.App. 16] a preliminary injunction was unnecessary or undesirable because MERC would have no authority to request equitable relief. The section merely allows MERC, as a party to a dispute, to protect its legitimate interests in a court of equity. In this way, the statute supplements traditional equity jurisprudence. We hold that neither PERA 5 nor case law deprives the circuit court of jurisdiction to issue a preliminary injunction in this case.

Van Buren contends, in the alternative, that even if the circuit court had jurisdiction to issue the preliminary injunction, it abused its discretion in doing so, because two of the prerequisites for obtaining a preliminary injunction--namely, irreparable injury and inadequate legal remedy--were insufficiently demonstrated by the union.

We accept the proposition that an injunction cannot be granted unless the party requesting it satisfies the court that he will otherwise suffer irreparable injury, Royal Oak School District v. State Tenure Commission, 367 Mich. 689, 693, 117 N.W.2d 181 (1962), and that he does not have an adequate remedy at law, Schantz v. Ruehs, 348 Mich. 680, 683, 83 N.W.2d 587 (1957). However, the union met this burden in the instant case.

The union members were threatened with irreparable harm. Had Van Buren been free to go forward unrestrained with its decision to terminate the employment of the bus drivers, the question before MERC--was there a duty to bargain about the subcontracting decision?--would have become moot for all practical purposes. In that [61 Mich.App....

To continue reading

Request your trial
41 practice notes
  • Southfield Police Officers Ass'n v. City of Southfield, Docket No. 81974
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Michigan
    • August 22, 1989
    ...work done by unit members and hire nonmembers to perform the [433 Mich. 179] work); Van Buren Public School Dist. v. Wayne Circuit Judge, 61 Mich.App. 6, 232 N.W.2d 278 (1975) (the school district's decision to replace its bus drivers with a private transportation firm is a mandatory subjec......
  • Kalamazoo City Ed. Ass'n v. Kalamazoo Public Schools, AFL-CI
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Michigan
    • July 24, 1979
    ...9 This holding has been recognized subsequently by numerous decisions. See, E. g., Van Buren Public School Dist. v. Wayne Circuit Judge, 61 Mich.App. 6, 13, fn 3, 232 N.W.2d 278 (1975); Prisoners' Labor Union at Marquette v. Department of Corrections, 61 Mich.App. 328, 329, fn 2, 232 N.W.2d......
  • Local 195, IFPTE, AFL-CIO v. State, AFL-CI
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
    • March 23, 1982
    ...Employment Relations Bd., 68 A.D.2d 202, 416 N.Y.S.2d 415 (App.Div.1979); Van Buren Public School Dist. v. Wayne Cty. Circuit Judge, 61 Mich.App. 6, 232 N.W.2d 278 (Ct.App.1975). These decisions rest on the assumption that subcontracting "does not represent a choice among alternative social......
  • Wikman v. City of Novi, No. 62843
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Michigan
    • July 2, 1982
    ...Union of America, Local 552, A.F.L., 331 Mich. 296, 49 N.W.2d 273 (1951); Van Buren Public School Dist. v. Wayne Circuit Page 115 Judge, 61 Mich.App. 6, 14, 232 N.W.2d 278 Case law exists indicating that the Constitution places some limitations on the Legislature's power to divest the court......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
41 cases
  • Southfield Police Officers Ass'n v. City of Southfield, Docket No. 81974
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Michigan
    • August 22, 1989
    ...work done by unit members and hire nonmembers to perform the [433 Mich. 179] work); Van Buren Public School Dist. v. Wayne Circuit Judge, 61 Mich.App. 6, 232 N.W.2d 278 (1975) (the school district's decision to replace its bus drivers with a private transportation firm is a mandatory subjec......
  • Kalamazoo City Ed. Ass'n v. Kalamazoo Public Schools, AFL-CI
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Michigan
    • July 24, 1979
    ...9 This holding has been recognized subsequently by numerous decisions. See, E. g., Van Buren Public School Dist. v. Wayne Circuit Judge, 61 Mich.App. 6, 13, fn 3, 232 N.W.2d 278 (1975); Prisoners' Labor Union at Marquette v. Department of Corrections, 61 Mich.App. 328, 329, fn 2, 232 N.W.2d......
  • Local 195, IFPTE, AFL-CIO v. State, AFL-CI
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
    • March 23, 1982
    ...Employment Relations Bd., 68 A.D.2d 202, 416 N.Y.S.2d 415 (App.Div.1979); Van Buren Public School Dist. v. Wayne Cty. Circuit Judge, 61 Mich.App. 6, 232 N.W.2d 278 (Ct.App.1975). These decisions rest on the assumption that subcontracting "does not represent a choice among alternative social......
  • Wikman v. City of Novi, No. 62843
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Michigan
    • July 2, 1982
    ...Union of America, Local 552, A.F.L., 331 Mich. 296, 49 N.W.2d 273 (1951); Van Buren Public School Dist. v. Wayne Circuit Page 115 Judge, 61 Mich.App. 6, 14, 232 N.W.2d 278 Case law exists indicating that the Constitution places some limitations on the Legislature's power to divest the court......
  • 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