Appeal from Mason County Superior Court. Docket No: 11-2-01285-2. Date filed: 10/12/2012. Judge signing: Honorable David Edward Foscue.
Christopher J. Casillas (of Cline & Associates ), for appellant.
Russell D. Hauge, Prosecuting Attorney, and Jacquelyn M. Aufderheide and Deborah A. Boe, Deputies, for respondents.
AUTHOR: Joel Penoyar, J.P.T. We concur: Bradley A. Maxa, J., Linda C.J. Lee, J.
[179 Wn.App. 990] ¶ 1 This action arises from Kitsap County's (County) decision to lay off two corrections officers for budgetary reasons. The officers' union, the Kitsap County Correctional Officers Guild (Guild), demanded to bargain the decision to lay off the officers. The County agreed to bargain the effects of the layoffs but not the decision. The County sought a declaratory judgment in superior court stating that layoffs are a permissive bargaining subject and the Guild committed an unfair labor practice when it demanded to bargain the decision. The Guild filed a cross motion for summary judgment, seeking (1) a declaration that layoffs are a mandatory bargaining subject and (2) an injunction against further layoffs without bargaining. The trial court granted declaratory judgment in the County's favor.
¶ 2 The Guild appeals, arguing that the County's claim was not justiciable, layoffs are a mandatory bargaining subject, and it is entitled to attorney fees on appeal. The County argues that, even if the layoffs are a mandatory subject, the Guild waived its right to bargain. We hold that [179 Wn.App. 991] the parties have an actual, present dispute regarding the right to bargain the layoffs; thus, the County's claim is justiciable. Additionally, the Guild did not waive its right to bargain over layoffs because the contractual waivers had expired. However, the trial court was required to conduct a balancing test to determine whether the layoffs in this case are a mandatory bargaining subject. The record does not reflect that the court engaged in this analysis. Accordingly, we remand for the trial court to conduct a balancing test based on the facts of this case. Attorney fees are not appropriate at this stage of the proceedings, but they may be awarded on remand.
¶ 3 The County's 2012 jail budget projected a $935,000 revenue loss. Consequently,
on October 24, 2011, the County informed two corrections officers that they would be laid off on January 1, 2012. The County stated that the layoffs were the result of budget reductions. When the officers informed the Guild of the impending layoffs, the Guild sent a letter to the County demanding to bargain the decision to conduct layoffs. The Guild also requested information related to the County's budget.
¶ 4 The parties met on November 8, 2011, and discussed the effects of the layoffs. After the meeting, the County sent the Guild a draft letter of understanding, stating that there would be two layoffs and allowing for voluntary layoffs in place of the scheduled involuntary layoffs. The Guild responded by clarifying that its original demand letter requested that the County bargain over both the decision to lay off employees and the effects of that decision. Because the parties did not reach an agreement on the decision to lay off the officers, which the Guild argued was a mandatory subject of bargaining, the Guild requested further meetings with the County. The County agreed to meet again [179 Wn.App. 992] and discuss the effects of the layoffs, but it stated that it believed the Guild had waived the right to bargain the decision based on provisions in the collective bargaining agreement and the Guild's failure to raise bargaining over the decision at the November meeting. The parties did not meet again, and the County laid off the two officers on January 1, 2012.
II. 2010-12 Collective Bargaining Agreement
¶ 5 The parties' collective bargaining agreement expired on December 31, 2009, and they were unable to reach an agreement over a new contract. The 2007-09 agreement ...