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Fraternal Order of Police v. District of Columbia

Court of Appeals of Columbia District

July 28, 2016

Fraternal Order of Police/Metropolitan Police Department Labor Committee, Appellant,
v.
District of Columbia, Appellee.

          Argued June 16, 2016

         Appeal from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia Civil Division (CAB-3455-14) (Hon. Stuart G. Nash, Trial Judge)

          Gregory K. McGillivary, with whom Diana J. Nobile was on the brief, for appellant.

          Holly M. Johnson, Assistant Attorney General, with whom Karl A. Racine, Attorney General for the District of Columbia, Todd S. Kim, Solicitor General, and Loren L. AliKhan, Deputy Solicitor General, were on the brief, for appellee.

          BEFORE: Thompson and Easterly, Associate Judges; and Farrell, Senior Judge.

         JUDGMENT

         This case came to be heard on the transcript of record and the briefs filed, and was argued by counsel. On consideration whereof, and as set forth in the opinion filed this date, it is now hereby

         ORDERED and ADJUDGED that the decision of the Superior Court dismissing appellant's suit is affirmed

          Farrell, Senior Judge

         The Fraternal Order of Police/Metropolitan Police Department Labor Committee (the FOP) appeals from the Superior Court's dismissal of its suit asking for reversal of an impasse arbitration award made under D.C. Code § 1-617.17 (f)(3) (2012 Repl.). Key to the issue we decide is that, in order to "take effect, " D.C. Code § 1-617.17 (j), the arbitration award had to be submitted to the Council of the District of Columbia for its "accept[ance] or reject[ion]." Id. The Council approved the award by resolution in May of 2014, and the FOP brought this action challenging the Council's decision and the award. The District of Columbia as appellee contends that dismissal of the suit was required because § 1-617.17 bars judicial review of the Council's decision to accept or reject an arbitration award of this kind, one arising from "[c]ollective bargaining concerning [District employee] compensation." D.C. Code § 1.617.17 (Title). For the reasons that follow, we agree and affirm the judgment of the Superior Court.

         I.

         Statutory Overview

         The District's Comprehensive Merit Personnel Act (CMPA), D.C. Code §§ 1-601.01 et seq., creates "separate processes for the [negotiation and] adoption of compensation and non-compensation components of collective bargaining agreements" concerning District government employees. District of Columbia v. American Fed'n of Gov't Emps., Local 1403, 19 A.3d 764, 765 n.1 (D.C. 2011). For non-compensation matters, an agreement is subject to the Mayor's approval. D.C. Code § 1-617.15 (a). If disapproved by the Mayor as "contrary to law, " the agreement must be "returned to the parties for renegotiation of the offensive provisions or such provisions shall be deleted from the agreement." Id. Once an agreement takes effect, the Mayor must "submit [it] to the Council for its information." D.C. Code § 1-617.15 (b).

         A different process governs agreement provisions concerning "salary, wages, health benefits, within-grade increases, . . . and any other compensation matters." D.C. Code § 1-617.17 (b). Because compensation and related matters affect budget decisions by the Council, "[c]ollective bargaining for a given fiscal year or years shall take place at such times as to be reasonably assured that negotiations shall be completed prior to submission of a budget [to the Council] for said year(s) . . . ." D.C. Code § 1-617.17 (f)(1). If negotiations reach an impasse, the parties must inform the District of Columbia Public Employee Relations Board (PERB), which must then appoint a mediator, who has thirty days to help the parties resolve the outstanding issues. D.C. Code § 1-617.17 (f)(2)-(3).

         If mediation does not produce a settlement, PERB, at the request of either party, must appoint an impartial Board of Arbitration to investigate the matter in dispute and hold any necessary hearing. Id. "The last best offer of each party shall be the basis for [this] . . . impasse arbitration, " and the arbitrator must issue a written award "with the object of achieving a prompt and fair settlement of the dispute." Id. Although only compensation matters must be decided in this manner, an arbitrator may also consider non-compensation matters at the request of both parties or PERB. D.C. Code ยง 1-617.17 (f)(3A). The Council is entitled to "the same prior notice of negotiation proceedings" as the parties, and, for the purpose of "informing ...


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