COA Statement

Members,

The DC Court of Appeals (our highest court) has published its opinion regarding a very important issue to our current collective bargaining agreement (CBA). We asked the court “whether the [DC City] Council’s (Council) decision to accept or reject an arbitration award under D.C. Code § 1-617.17 [Comprehensive Merit Personnel Act (CMPA)] is subject to judicial review…” They determined it was not.

The Court highlighted three specific reasons why our appeal was rejected:

  1. The complexity of the DC CMPA indicates that the Council is intended to have complete authority over the approval process of arbitration awards without any further review.”

The Court stated plainly that since the statute did not provide for judicial review, it is, therefore, inappropriate. Additionally, they determined that because the statute was very complex and detailed, the author’s intent was to leave judicial review out of the statute

  1. To allow judicial review of arbitration awards would undermine the Council’s ratification of arbitration awards.

The Court determined that to allow judicial review of arbitration awards like ours would do away with the need to have the Council approve or reject any arbitration awards per the CMPA. The Court concluded this analysis by stating, “Simple respect for the dignity of a coequal branch of government is enough for us to reject this effort to reduce Council ratification to a tryout on the road to the main event of judicial review.”

  1. Finally, the Court stated that “the potential for disruption of a statutory scheme requiring budget action and ratification of arbitration awards to proceed in tandem impels us to reject the argument for judicial review.”

By looking at the CMPA’s objectives and its legislative history, the Court concluded that “…collective bargaining over compensation, leading to settlements or arbitration awards be carried out contemporaneously with the appropriations process for that fiscal year.” The Court further stated that judicial review of the Council’s approval or rejection of arbitration awards would prevent the Council from exercising its appropriations authority conjunctively with any arbitration award. On that note, the Court concluded, “[t]his foreseeable thwarting of the statutory objectives may be the strongest reason for rejecting judicial review of the Council’s action…”

With the recent decision from the DC Court of Appeals, we have concluded a long and arduous journey, resulting in an answer to a very important question: Who has the authority to review our CBA (contract) arbitration awards? It is the Council.

Now, with this answer in our arsenal we can ratify our current contract and begin negotiations on the new one. We will need your input regarding what you want in this new contract. We are optimistic that together we can shape a future we all will be proud of.

As always, be safe and watch each other’s backs.

M.N. Mahl
Chairman
DC Police Union

Posted August 04 2016 at 12:37 PM by Matthew N. Mahl | Permanent Link

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