PERC dismisses unfair labor charge lodged against Council 2by County and City Employee Writer on December 3, 2013
THE PUBLIC EMPLOYMENT RELATIONS COMMISSION has dismissed an unfair labor practice charge filed by Clallam County against Council 2.
The county argued that a mutual mistake had occurred in reopening bargaining on the terms of an agreement.
But the commission rejected that argument, finding in favor of Council 2 and dismissing the unfair labor charge.
Evidence before the commission was that in the fall of 2012, due to a budget crisis, the unions and Clallam County agreed to open the collective bargaining agreement and enter into concession bargaining to avoid layoffs.
The agreement called for the previously bargained increase in the cost-of-living allowance (COLA) for 2012 to be retained, but the increase would be paid back to the employer through increased medical premium payments. The result would be no increase in income for the employees, a concession to avoid layoffs.
During the bargaining process, Clallam County representatives suggested the 2012 medical premium payback should be extended into 2013.
The union rejected that proposal, arguing that the 2012 COLA increase should apply in both years, but the payback should apply only to 2012.
After arguing the position back and forth in e-mail messages, the county eventually accepted the union’s position in the agreed-upon memorandum of agreement documents.
But later Clallam County once more picked up the contention that the payback stipulation applied to 2013 as well as 2012, arguing that the person who had made the agreement that it applied only to 2012 did not have the authority to act on behalf of the county.
The commission dismissed the county’s argument.
“Both parties understood the MOAs were for a 2012 cola payback in 2012 only,” the commission found. “The written instruments accurately reflected the parties’ intent and were ratified by both the unions and the employer.”
In dismissing the unfair labor practice charge, the commission found that the person making the agreement had the authority to do so and that the unions did not breach their good faith bargaining obligation.
Senior Counsel Audrey Eide appeared for Council 2.