The issues in this case are (a) whether the Public Employment Labor Relations Act (PELRA) of 1971, Minn.St. 179.61 to 179.77, requires public employers to meet and negotiate with the exclusive bargaining representatives of their employees concerning written reprimands and suspensions of their employees, and (b) if so, whether the charter of the city of Minneapolis limits the power of that city to conduct such negotiations.
The district court discharged an alternative writ of mandamus by which plaintiff union sought to compel defendant city of Minneapolis to negotiate concerning suspensions of less than 90 days and oral or written reprimands. We affirm in part and reverse in part.
The Minneapolis City Charter, c. 3, § 25, provides that the appointment, employment, suspension, or discharge of any employee shall be governed by the charter's chapter on civil service. Chapter 19, dealing with civil service, provides that no employee after 6 months' continuous employment may be suspended without a hearing. However, the same chapter of the Minneapolis charter provides that "[n]othing in this Chapter shall limit the power of any officer to suspend a subordinate for a reasonable period, not exceeding ninety days, for purposes of discipline." Minneapolis City Charter, c. 19, § 11. Minneapolis Civil Service Commission Rules 10.01 and 10.03 also provide that employees may be suspended for 90 days or less for disciplinary purposes without a hearing.
In 1973, the legislature enacted a local law, L.1973, c. 523, which provided that, notwithstanding any charter provision to the contrary, no employee in the classified service of the city of Minneapolis may be suspended for disciplinary purposes for a period in excess of 30 days except for cause and with a right of appeal to the Minneapolis Civil Service Commission. That law became effective after this action was commenced but prior to the district court's decision. Because of this local law, the district court treated plaintiff's alternative writ of mandamus as if it applied to suspensions of
1. The first issue then is whether PELRA requires public employers
Section 179.66, subd. 2, provides:
However, § 179.66, subd. 1, limits the duty to meet and negotiate:
Section 179.63, subd. 18, defines "terms and conditions of employment," as used in § 179.66, subd. 2:
The union argues that disciplinary matters are clearly "terms and conditions of employment," as used in § 179.66, subd. 2, because they are "personnel policies affecting the working conditions of the employees." Under this rationale, the union claims the right to demand that the city negotiate. The city claims that disciplinary matters are not terms and conditions of employment and that, even if they were, the city should not be compelled to negotiate these matters because they are encompassed within § 179.66, subd. 1, which does not require negotiation as to "matters of
No Minnesota cases have interpreted the meaning of either "terms and conditions of employment" or "inherent managerial policy," as used in PELRA. The phrase "terms and conditions of employment" appears to have been borrowed from the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), 29 U.S.C.A. §§ 151 to 168. 29 U.S.C.A. § 158(a)(5), makes it an unfair labor practice for the employer to refuse to bargain collectively, and § 158(d) defines the duty to bargain collectively as "the performance of the mutual obligation of the employer and the representative of the employees to meet at reasonable times and confer in good faith with respect to wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment * * *."
Both parties have cited in support of their respective arguments certain Federal court decisions construing the phrase "terms and conditions of employment," as used in the NLRA. See, N.L.R.B. v. American Nat. Ins. Co., 343 U.S. 395, 72 S.Ct. 824, 96 L.Ed. 1027 (1952); Fibreboard Corp. v. N. L. R. B., 379 U.S. 203, 85 S.Ct. 398, 13 L.Ed.2d 233 (1964); Internatl. Woodworkers, Local 3-10 v. N. L. R. B., 148 U.S.App. D.C. 30, 458 F.2d 852 (1972); N. L. R. B. v. Mylan-Sparta Co. Inc., 166 F.2d 485 (6 Cir. 1948). While we find these decisions instructive, they are not controlling because the NLRA contains no definition of the phrase "terms and conditions of employment," while the PELRA does contain such a definition. In any event, it is clear from decisions such as Fibreboard Corp. v. N. L. R. B., supra, that the United States Supreme Court has given broad definition to the phrase "terms and conditions of employment" in interpreting the National Labor Relations Act.
A major purpose of PELRA is to further the resolution of labor disputes through negotiation. Because of the severe restrictions on strikes contained in the act,
Nor are we persuaded that these disciplinary matters fall within the intent of § 179.66, subd. 1, which excepts from mandatory negotiation "matters of inherent managerial policy," including "selection and direction * * * of personnel." While we do not attempt to define the scope of that exception, we do hold that suspensions of 30 days or less without pay and without a hearing and written reprimands are not
2. Even though we hold in this opinion that disciplinary matters are terms and conditions of employment and thereby generally subject to negotiation under PELRA, we must decide whether the charter of the city of Minneapolis limits the power of that city to conduct negotiations regarding such matters.
As stated above, the Minneapolis charter and civil service rules provide that an employee may be suspended for a period up to 90 days without a hearing. The 90-day period has been changed to 30 days because of the local law enacted by the legislature in 1973.
The resolution of whether the charter limits the power to negotiate on this subject was made more difficult by a 1973 amendment to § 179.66, subd. 5. Prior to that amendment, that section read:
Prior to the 1973 amendment, it seems clear that negotiations by the city of Minneapolis on the subject of less than 30-day suspensions would have been of little value because any change from the charter provision would have been void and of no effect. However, in 1973, the legislature amended § 179.66, subd. 5, so that it now provides:
Obviously, the statute, as amended, is unclear and difficult to understand. It appears that some words may have been inadvertently omitted. Further, the words "shall be void and of no effect" have been deleted, whether intentionally or not. Under these circumstances, and with a lack of any clear indication as to what was intended, we must conclude, as did the district court, that in instances where a conflict arises between a provision in a contract required by § 179.70 and a provision of a home rule charter the legislature intended to give priority to the charter provision.
As support for this conclusion, we note that the legislature made no change in that part of § 179.72, subd. 7, which provides that "no decision of the [arbitration] panel which violates any provision of the laws of Minnesota or rules or regulations promulgated thereunder or municipal charters or ordinances or resolutions enacted pursuant thereto, or which causes a penalty to be incurred thereunder, shall have any force or effect."
We are also guided by § 645.16, which provides in part:
While the statute is unclear, we have concluded, and now hold, that it was the intent of the legislature that a provision of a contract entered into pursuant to PELRA, which of itself or in its implementation violates or is in conflict with the public employers' home rule charter, is void and of no effect. Therefore, unless the Minneapolis charter is changed, the provisions contained therein which allow suspension for disciplinary purposes for a period not exceeding 30 days are controlling between the parties on this issue, and any contract provision which might result from negotiations on this subject would doubtless be contrary to the charter and therefore of no effect. Hence, negotiations on this subject would be futile. On the other hand, the subject of written reprimands is not dealt with in the charter, and that question is open to negotiation.
This matter is remanded to the district court with instructions that it issue a writ of mandamus ordering the city to meet and negotiate with the union concerning written reprimands of the city's employees.
Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded with instructions.