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Professional Firefighters of Eastern Missouri v. City of Univ. City

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Fourth Division

December 9, 2014

PROFESSIONAL FIRE FIGHTERS OF EASTERN MISSOURI, INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF FIRE FIGHTERS, LOCAL 2665, Appellant,
v.
CITY OF UNIVERSITY CITY, et al., Respondents

Appeal from the Circuit Court of St. Louis County. 13SL-CC1777. Honorable David Lee Vincent III.

For Appellant: Richard A. Barry III, Megen I. Siebelts, St. Louis, MO.

For Respondent: Cindy Reeds Ormsby, Kathryn B. Forster, St. Louis, MO.

ROBERT M. CLAYTON III, Judge. Patricia L. Cohen, P.J., and Roy L. Richter, J., concur.

OPINION

ROBERT M. CLAYTON III, Judge.

Page 24

Professional Firefighters of Eastern Missouri, International Association of Firefighters, Local 2665 (" the Union" ) appeals the trial court's judgment dismissing its petition for writ of mandamus against of the City of University City (" the City" ).[1] We reverse and remand.

I. BACKGROUND

The Union represents all of the firefighters employed by the City for the purposes of collective bargaining. The parties' relationship is governed by the terms of a memorandum of agreement (" MOA" ). The MOA expired on June 30, 2011, but by its own terms the MOA automatically renews annually unless one of the parties provides timely written notice of its desire to modify the agreement.

On January 31, 2013, the Union sent timely written notice to the City of its desire to modify the MOA with respect to, (1) the compensation model for the City's firefighters and paramedics; (2) the City's health and wellness program; (3) the method for calculating City firefighters/paramedic pensions; and (4) Union member holiday pay. Subsequently, the parties had numerous collective bargaining sessions starting on February 6, 2013. During the sessions, the parties reached tentative agreements on various provisions of the MOA. Both parties describe these initial sessions as generally congenial and productive.

However, on April 10, 2013, the mood of the negotiations abruptly changed. During the week prior to the session, Union Shop Steward Jen Stuhlman filed a formal,

Page 25

written complaint against Chief Adam Long, alleging he made discriminatory comments about her gender. At the April 10, 2013 session, the City refused to submit a counter-proposal to the Union's most recent proposal. The parties described the April 10, 2013 session and every session thereafter as " heated." On or about April 22, 2013, the City submitted a counter-proposal to the Union which included a pay cut. The counter-proposal also eliminated all eleven of the new articles proposed by the Union without explanation. Specifically, the City's counter-proposal proposed tat the existing MOA articles regarding " union business" and the calculation of Fair Labor Standards Act overtime remain unchanged, where the Union had specifically requested changes to these sections. Subsequent sessions became increasingly contentious. Negotiations came to a head on April 24, 2013, when the City's negotiating team walked out of the session within two minutes of starting the meeting.

Ultimately, on or about May 17, 2013, the Union filed a petition for writ of mandamus against the City requesting the trial court order, among other things, the City to collectively bargain in good faith with the intent to reach an agreement. The trial court issued a preliminary writ of mandamus against the City and appointed a special master to preside over the collective bargaining negotiations. The special master presided over the next several bargaining ...


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