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AGO 1951 No. 118 - September 04, 1951
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Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington

CONTRIBUTION BY PORT DISTRICT TO UNION PENSION FUND

A Port District may legally contribute to a Union Pension Fund if that is necessary to obtain services of longshoremen.

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                                                               September 4, 1951

Honorable Cliff Yelle
State Auditor
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 51-53 No. 118

Attention:  Mr. A. E. Hankins, Chief Examiner
            Division of Municipal Corporations

Dear Sir:

            Receipt is acknowledged of your letter of August 27, 1951, in which you request our opinion as to whether a Port District may legally contribute to a Union Pension Fund an amount of 15 cents per hour worked by longshoremen.

            It is our conclusion that a contribution by a Port District to a Union Pension Fund, under the proper circumstances, may be legal.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            Your letter does not state the circumstances under which the arrangement has been arrived at for the contribution to the longshoremen's pension program.  We assume, however, that it is a requirement of some agreement arrived at between the Port District and the Union representing the longshoremen employed by the Port District.  The Supreme Court of this state in the case of Christie v. Port of Olympia, 27 Wn. (2d) 534, 179 P. (2d) 294, held that a Port District has authority to make such contracts as to wages, hours, vacations, and so forth, as are customarily offered to longshoremen by competitors in the same business.  The court said on page 550:

            "Clearly, the power to employ includes the power to contract, and, as corollary to that, since longshoremen are absolutely necessary to carry on the  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] functions of a port, we think a port necessarily has the implied power to make such contracts relating to wages, hours, vacations, and so forth, as are customarily offered to longshoremen by its competitors in the same business."

            If as a condition to obtaining the services of longshoremen it has become necessary to contribute to the Pension Fund of the Union to which those longshoremen belong, we believe that under the authority of the decision just quoted, the Port District may make such an arrangement.  The money paid to the Pension Fund should be regarded as additional compensation paid for the services rendered and is not a gratuity.  We see no obstacle to paying this additional compensation into the Pension Fund rather than directly to the individuals where that has been agreed to between the Port District and the Union authorized to represent the employees.

Very truly yours,

SMITH TROY
Attorney General

LYLE L. IVERSEN
Assistant Attorney General

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