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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. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  2. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  3. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

  4. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  5. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

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