Navigation Top
AGO Logo Graphic
AGO Header Image
File a Complaint
Contact the AGO
AGO 1952 No. 401 - September 09, 1952
AGO Opinion Header Image
Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington

THIRD CLASS CITIES ‑- WHETHER A PROPOSED LABOR AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE CITY OF ANACORTES AND LOCAL 347 OF THE AMERICAN FEDERATION OF STATE, COUNTY AND MUNICIPAL EMPLOYEES COMPLIES WITH THE CONSTITUTION AND LAWS OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON

Subject to the exceptions noted in the body of the opinion, the proposed labor agreement is in compliance with the Constitution and laws of the State of Washington.

                                                              - - - - - - - - - - - - -

                                                               September 9, 1952

Honorable Cliff Yelle
State Auditor
Legislative Building
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 51-53 No. 401

Attention:  Mr. A. E. Hankins

Dear Sir:

            Receipt is hereby acknowledged of your letter of August 27, 1952, in which you request our opinion on the legality of a proposed labor agreement between the City of Anacortes and the Local 347 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

            Our conclusion may be summarized as follows:

            The proposed labor agreement between the City of Anacortes and the Local 347, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, subject to the exceptions noted below, complies with the Constitution and the laws of the State of Washington.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            At the outset, it is to be noted that there may be conflicts between the proposed labor agreement and the ordinances of the City of Anacortes.  We are here  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] passing only upon the conformance of the subject labor agreement to the Constitution and the laws of the State of Washington.  We note that the proposed labor agreement recognizes this principle.

            Article I of the proposed labor agreement provides for a closed shop, and further, that the union shall be the sole collective bargaining agent of the subject employees.  These principles have been concluded to be valid by our prior opinions, so long as the municipality retains the right to make its selection of employees, and this function is not delegated to the union.  This power has been retained by the municipality as exhibited by Article I, subparagraph (e) and Article VIII, subparagraph (a).

            Article III, subparagraph (b) provides for meetings of the standing committees for the discussion of questions submitted by either group to the other in writing, discussion not being limited to the written issues.  We have stated in prior opinions on this question, and it is equally valid here, that, the city may not arbitrate on matters concerning the dismissal of the employees for cause, as that power, like the power to employ, rests with the city and may not be contracted away.

            Article IV relates to hours of labor, payroll calculation and overtime pay.  Subparagraph (d) of this Article states:

            "Any employee called to work after completing his regular shift of eight (8) hours shall be paid a minimum of two (2) hours."

            It might be contended that such an agreement would be repugnant to Article VIII, section 7 of the State Constitution which prohibits the giving of any gifts of money, etc., by a municipal corporation to any individual, association or corporation.

            We do not feel there is any merit in this contention.  The payments contemplated are not gifts, but merely an agreement for the payment of a minimum compensation, in consideration of the inconvenience suffered and to make it worthwhile to the employee to return to the job after completing an eight hour shift upon notification thereof, at some point other than the place of performance of the labor.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            Article VI, subparagraph (a) gives the union partial control in determining what individuals will be laid off when positions of skilled labor are involved.  Such a provision is illegal.  The city must retain its right to discharge its employees and may not delegate that power to the union.  However, the city may agree to confer with the union before taking action on such matters.

            We have several times held that school directors, in the absence of specific statutes authorizing them so to do, have no power to enter into any contract which will not terminate within one year, or in any event, which will not terminate during the term of the majority of the board of school directors.  We feel that this is equally applicable here and insofar as Article XII of the proposed agreement attempts to bind the City of Anacortes beyond the terms of the majority of the members of the Council, it is unlawful.

            With the exceptions above noted, we find the proposed agreement to be in compliance with the Constitution and the laws of the State of Washington.

Very truly yours,

SMITH TROY
Attorney General

STEPHEN C. WAY
Assistant Attorney General

Content Bottom Graphic
AGO Logo