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Amalgamated Transit Union Local No. 1576 v. Snohomish County Public Transp. Ben. Area

Court of Appeals of Washington, Division 1

December 23, 2013

AMALGAMATED TRANSIT UNION LOCAL NO. 1576, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District 160, and Lance Norton, Appellants,
v.
SNOHOMISH COUNTY PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION BENEFIT AREA, d/b/a Community Transit, Respondent.

Page 1104

Clifford Freed, Jillian M. Cutler, Frank Freed Subit & Thomas LLP, Seattle, WA, for Appellants.

Matthew R. Hendricks, Hendricks Bennett PLLC, Edmonds, WA, for Respondents.

LEACH, C.J.

[178 Wn.App. 568] ¶ 1 Amalgamated Transit Union Local No. 1576, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace [178 Wn.App. 569] Workers District 160, and Lance Norton (collectively Amalgamated) appeal the trial court's grant of summary judgment to the Snohomish County Public Transportation Benefit Area, d/b/a Community Transit. Amalgamated seeks a judgment declaring a provision of Community Transit's bylaws void. Amalgamated contends that this provision conflicts with RCW 36.57A.050 because it prohibits a nonvoting board member from attending any board executive session held to discuss personnel matters. Because the bylaws prohibit what the state law requires by removing the board chair's discretion to determine when the nonvoting

Page 1105

member can attend these executive sessions, we reverse and remand to the trial court for entry of judgment in favor of Amalgamated.

FACTS

¶ 2 Community Transit is a public transportation benefit area created to provide regional transportation services to a portion of Snohomish County. [1] The bylaws of this municipal corporation establish a board of directors to serve as its legislative authority. Until 2010, nine elected officials selected by the component cities and Snohomish County comprised this board.

¶ 3 In 2010, the Washington Legislature amended RCW 36.57A.050 to add a nonvoting member to public transportation benefit area legislative authorities. [2] The amendments granted to certain labor organizations authority to recommend this new member. A Community Transit representative provided testimony to the legislature opposing these amendments.

¶ 4 The current version of RCW 36.57A.050 states,

The nonvoting member is recommended by the labor organization representing the public transportation employees within [178 Wn.App. 570] the local public transportation system. If the public transportation employees are represented by more than one labor organization, all such labor organizations shall select the nonvoting member by majority vote. The nonvoting member shall comply with all governing bylaws and policies of the authority. The chair or cochairs of the authority shall exclude the nonvoting member from attending any executive session held for the purpose of discussing negotiations with labor organizations. The chair or cochairs may exclude the nonvoting member from attending any other executive session.

¶ 5 Amalgamated Transit Union Local No. 1576 and International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District 160 represent certain Community Transit employees. In August 2010, these unions recommended Lance Norton as the nonvoting member of Community Transit's governing board.

¶ 6 Community Transit's governing board conducts monthly meetings. These include a public portion and may include a closed executive session. On September 1, 2011, the board amended its bylaws. Section 3.3(c) of the amended bylaws states,

The Chairperson or the Acting Chairperson shall exclude the nonvoting member of the Board from attending any executive session held for the purpose of discussing negotiations with labor organizations or matters relating to the personnel of Community Transit. The Chairperson or the Acting Chairperson may allow the nonvoting member to attend an executive session if he or she finds that the attendance by the nonvoting member at the executive session would be in the best interest of the Corporation or not be detrimental to its operations. The decision of the Chairperson or Acting Chairperson shall be final and binding. If the non-voting [sic] member attends an executive session of the Board of Directors, such non-voting [sic] member shall not disclose any information ...

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