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COA: County officials not bound to collective bargaining agreement

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An issue of first impression arose in a lawsuit in which a local union argued that the Madison County assessor and recorder had to follow the terms of a collective bargaining agreement that the county had entered into with UAW.

The county commissioners and county council entered into the CBA beginning Jan. 1, 2009. When newly elected assessor Larry Davis and recorder Angela Shelton terminated employees, the Local 1963 of the United Automobile, Aerospace, and Agricultural Implement Workers of America, UAW filed grievances, arguing that Davis and Shelton had breached the CBA.

Davis and Shelton told the county commissioners and council that they understood they were not governed by the CBA and would not authorize the commissioners and council to negotiate a new CBA to govern their deputies and employees. The two officials believed they had the ability to appoint and terminate their employees.

UAW alleged the county breached the CBA and sought an injunction for the reinstatement of two deputy assessors. The trial court granted the officials’ summary judgment motion, finding the commissioners and council lacked the authority to unilaterally bind non-consenting, independently elected officials to the CBA.

The UAW pointed to I.C. 36-2-2-13 and 5-4-1-1, arguing the trial court misinterpreted them, and that the General Assembly considers the deputies and employees who work for the officials to be employed by the commissioners on behalf of the county. The interpretation of Section 13 is an issue of first impression. The judges rejected the UAW’s claim that because statutes expressly authorize the officials to appoint deputies and employees, the actual “authority to employ these deputies and employees is conferred on the commissioners” by Section 13. This section and Section 1 do not render the county the employer of the officials’ deputies and employees, the COA held.

By statute, the assessor and recorder are able to appoint certain employees. The officials are independently empowered to appoint and discharge their own deputies at their discretion, wrote Judge Patricia Riley in Local 1963 of the United Automobile, Aerospace, and Agricultural Implement Workers of America, UAW v. Madison County, Indiana, Madison County Assessor, and Madison County Recorder, 27A05-1301-CC-40.

The trial court did not err by concluding that the CBA imposes impermissible restrictions on the ability of the elected officials to select, discipline, remove and direct the work of their deputies and employees. The commissioners and council, by entering into the CBA, exceeded their authority and encumbered the officials’ right to appoint and discharge their deputies and employees, the appellate court held.
 

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  1. For many years this young man was "family" being my cousin's son. Then he decided to ignore my existence and that of my daughter who was very hurt by his actions after growing up admiring, Jason. Glad he is doing well, as for his opinion, if you care so much you wouldn't ignore the feelings of those who cared so much about you for years, Jason.

  2. Good riddance to this dangerous activist judge

  3. What is the one thing the Hoosier legal status quo hates more than a whistleblower? A lawyer whistleblower taking on the system man to man. That must never be rewarded, must always, always, always be punished, lest the whole rotten tree be felled.

  4. I want to post this to keep this tread alive and hope more of David's former clients might come forward. In my case, this coward of a man represented me from June 2014 for a couple of months before I fired him. I knew something was wrong when he blatantly lied about what he had advised me in my contentious and unfortunate divorce trial. His impact on the proceedings cast a very long shadow and continues to impact me after a lengthy 19 month divorce. I would join a class action suit.

  5. The dispute in LB Indiana regarding lake front property rights is typical of most beach communities along our Great Lakes. Simply put, communication to non owners when visiting the lakefront would be beneficial. The Great Lakes are designated navigational waters (including shorelines). The high-water mark signifies the area one is able to navigate. This means you can walk, run, skip, etc. along the shores. You can't however loiter, camp, sunbath in front of someones property. Informational signs may be helpful to owners and visitors. Our Great Lakes are a treasure that should be enjoyed by all. PS We should all be concerned that the Long Beach, Indiana community is on septic systems.

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