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AGO 1951 No. 053 - May 29, 1951
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Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington

COUNTIES -- EMPLOYEES OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS -- LABOR UNION CONTRACTS.

County commissioners may contract with representatives of their employees concerning employment conditions, hours and wages.

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                                                                   May 29, 1951

Honorable Reuben C. Youngquist
Prosecuting Attorney
Skagit County
Mount Vernon, Washington                                                                                            Cite as:  AGO 51-53 No. 53

Dear Sir:

            We acknowledge receipt of your request for an opinion as to whether a board of county commissioners has the authority to contract with a labor union concerning employment conditions, hours and wages of its employees.

            We presume that your request is concerned with employees of the commissioners, rather than to employees of the other elected officers of the county, and our conclusion may be stated as follows:

            County commissioners may contract with representatives of their employees concerning employment conditions, hours and wages.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            On June 7, 1944, this office issued an opinion to the state auditor to the effect that we believe that public utility districts, through their boards of commissioners, may enter a collective bargaining contract between such district and the labor union representing employees of the district concerning wages of said employees.  On July 10, 1944, we issued an opinion to the state auditor to the effect that the school directors of a school district also have such power.  On the same day we issued an opinion to the prosecuting attorney of Snohomish County to the same effect, namely whether a school board has the power to enter into an agreement and contract with a labor union covering the question of wages, hours, and working conditions of its janitorial employees.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            On October 21, 1944, this office issued an opinion to the prosecuting attorney of King County in which we advised that we believed that the powers of the board of trustees of the King County hospital system had powers similar to the directors of school districts and commissioners of public utility districts relative to the power to contract with their employees through their union representative concerning wages, hours and working conditions.  Finally, on November 30, 1944, this office issued an opinion to the prosecuting attorney of Yakima county regarding the powers of county commissioners to enter into such an agreement concerning their road district employees, and based upon the earlier opinions above referred to, advised that county commissioners had such power.

            It would, therefore, appear that county commissioners, concerning their employees, as commissioners of the county have the power to contract with a labor union representing their employees about employment conditions, hours and wages.

            Copies of the opinions herein referred to are enclosed.  Inasmuch as no proposed contract has been submitted with your request, this opinion does not advise concerning particular subjects or clauses of any such contract, and, therefore, we may not pass upon the same.

Very truly yours,

SMITH TROY
Attorney General

PHILIP W. RICHARDSON
Assistant Attorney General

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