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March 18, 1970
Public Employees Collective
Olympia, Washington 98501
Cite as: AGLO 1970 No. 37
Attention: !ttJohn Beresford Welsh, Jr.
We acknowledge receipt of your letter dated March 17, 1970, requesting our opinion on a question pertaining to the authority of local governmental units to combine in employing on their behalf a professional negotiator in public employee collective bargaining matters.
While you have not identified any particular local governmental unit to which your question has reference, we surmise from the context in which the question is posed that you have in mind all of the public bodies which are governed by the provisions of chapter 41.56 RCW ‑ the 1967 public employees collective bargaining act ‑ as specified in RCW 41.56.020. This section provides that:
"This chapter shall apply to any county or municipal corporation, or any political subdivision of the state of Washington except as otherwise provided by RCW 47.64.030, 47.64.040, 54.04.170, 54.04.180, 28.72.010 through 28.72.090, and chapter 53.18 RCW."
RCW 41.56.100, codifying § 10 of this 1967 act, expressly authorizes any such public body, acting through any officer, board, commission, council, or other person1/ to,
[[Orig. Op. Page 2]]
". . . engage in collective bargaining with the exclusive bargaining representative . . ."
of a bargaining unit comprised of employees of such public body. In accordance with the rules pertaining to the "implied powers" of municipalities,2/ it therefore clearly follows, in our opinion, that any of the public bodies to which chapter 41.56 RCW is applicable may be said to have the authority to employ such personnel as are reasonably necessary in order to allow the public body to engage in collective bargaining as provided for in this statute.
With respect to the joint exercise of this power by two or more public bodies to which chapter 41.56 RCW is applicable, see chapter 39.34 RCW ‑ the interlocal cooperation act (chapter 239, Laws of 1967). Under the provisions of RCW 39.34.030, it is expressly provided that:
"(1) Any power or powers, privileges or authority exercised or capable of exercise by a public agency of this state may be exercised and enjoyed jointly with any other public agency of this state having the power or powers, privilege or authority, . . ."
The key term for purposes of this chapter is the term "public agency," which is defined in RCW 39.34.020 as follows:
"For the purposes of this chapter, the term 'public agency' shall mean any city, town, county, public utility district, port district, fire protection district, school district, or metropolitan municipal corporation of this state; any agency of the state government or of the United States; and any political subdivision of another state."
For a recent illustration of the utility of this chapter with regard to employment of a certain individual by one public agency, with the services of such individual being made available to other public agencies having the similar authority pursuant to an interlocal governmental agreement, see our recent opinion dated March 11, 1970, [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] to the director of the Washington Public Employees' Retirement System, copy enclosed.
We trust that the foregoing information and material will be of some assistance to you in understanding the degree of existing legal authority which those public bodies which are covered by chapter 41.56 RCW may be said to have to combine in employing on their behalf a professional negotiator on public employee collective bargaining matters.
Very truly yours,
FOR THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
Philip H. Austin
Assistant Attorney General
*** FOOTNOTES ***
1/See the definition of "public employer" in RCW 41.56.030 (1).
2/Implied powers are such as are necessary to carry into effect those which are expressly granted, and which must, therefore, be presumed to have been within the intention of the legislative grant. See, AGO 63-64 No. 121 [[to State Finance Committee on February 21, 1963]], copy enclosed, and authorities cited therein.