Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Second Division
PROFESSIONAL FIREFIGHTERS OF EASTERN MISSOURI, INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF FIREFIGHTERS, LOCAL 2665, Plaintiff/Appellant,
CITY OF UNIVERSITY CITY, MAYOR SHELLEY WELSCH, FIRE CHIEF ADAM LONG, CITY MANAGER LEHMAN WALKER, AND COUNCIL MEMBERS STEPHEN KRAFT, TERRY CROW, L. MICHAEL GLICKERT, PAULETTE CARR, ARTHUR SHARPE, JR., and ROD JENNINGS, Defendants/Respondents,
from the Circuit Court of St. Louis County Honorable Tom W.
B. SULLIVAN, P.J.
Firefighters of Eastern Missouri, International Association
of Firefighters, Local 2665 (Appellant or Union) appeals from
the trial court's declaratory judgment entered in favor
of City of University City (City), Mayor Shelley Welsch
(Mayor), Fire Chief Adam Long (Fire Chief), City Manager
Lehman Walker (City Manager), and Council Members Stephen
Kraft, Terry Crow, L. Michael Glickert, Paulette Carr, Arthur
Sharpe, Jr., and Rod Jennings (Council Members) (collectively
Respondents). We affirm.
filed a Petition for Writ of Mandamus against Respondents,
requesting the court order Respondents to comply with the
Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) entered into between
City and Union, particularly those sections dictating the
minimum staffing of City's Fire Department. The court
issued a preliminary order in mandamus directing Respondents
to file responsive pleadings and to appear for hearing. Union
then filed its First Amended Petition for Declaratory
Judgment against Respondents, requesting the court hold a
hearing to determine City's obligations regarding minimum
staffing of the Fire Department under the existing CBA, and
City's obligations regarding hiring qualified personnel
to ensure City maintains its contracted minimum level of
staffing in the Fire Department.
filed a Motion to Dismiss Union's Petition for
Declaratory Judgment, to which Union filed a response. The
court denied Respondents' Motion to Dismiss and held a
trial on Union's Petition for Declaratory Judgment, at
which testimony was adduced, evidence taken, and the parties
filed trial briefs. The court then issued its Judgment,
finding the language of the CBA regarding minimum staffing
permits City to issue a reduction in force, which may have
the effect of reducing the minimum number of personnel on
duty. This appeal follows. Additional facts relevant to
determining the merits of Union's appeal will be adduced
as necessary later in this opinion.
maintains the trial court erred in finding Section 2.03 of
the CBA allows City to issue a reduction in force reducing
the minimum number of personnel on duty because the decision
was against the weight of the evidence and erroneously
applied the law, in that the language of the entire CBA,
along with evidence presented regarding the intent of the
parties in agreeing to the language of Section 2.03, dictates
a finding that City is required to staff each crew on duty
with 11 firefighter/paramedics regardless of whether or not a
reduction in force is issued.
standard of review for a declaratory judgment action is the
same as in any other court-tried case. Century Motor
Corporation v. FCA U.S. LLC, 477 S.W.3d 89, 94 (Mo.App.
E.D. 2015). The judgment will be affirmed unless there is no
substantial evidence to support it, it is against the weight
of the evidence, or it erroneously declares or applies the
law. Id. We apply de novo review to
questions of law decided in court-tried cases. Id.
The interpretation of a contract is a question of law.
Systemaire, Inc. v. St. Charles County, 432 S.W.3d
783, 787 (Mo.App. E.D. 2014).
April 13, 2015, Union and City entered into the CBA. The CBA
is a written contract between the parties setting forth the
employment relationship between City and the firefighters.
Article 2 - Working Conditions, Section 2.03 of the CBA,
titled "Reduction In Force, " provides:
The City will maintain a staffing level of at least 11
personnel per crew on duty each day. However, in the event of
a reduction in force, front-line employees assigned to a
shift will be laid off by seniority regardless of job
classification. Specifically exempt from this provision shall
be 40-hour administrative employees, specifically the Fire
Chief and Assistant Chief. Seniority is defined as length of
continuous service from latest date of ...