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Anaheim Union High School District v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO

California Court of Appeals, Fourth District, Third Division

December 16, 2013

ANAHEIM UNION HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT, Plaintiff and Appellant,
v.
AMERICAN FEDERATION OF STATE, COUNTY AND MUNICIPAL EMPLOYEES, LOCAL 3112, AFL-CIO, Defendant and Respondent.

Certified for publication 1/3/14 (order attached)

Appeal from a judgment of the Superior Court of Orange County No. 30-2012-00538946, B. Tam Nomoto Schumann, Judge.

Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz, Jack M. Sleeth, Jr., and Paul V. Carelli, IV, for Petitioner and Appellant.

Rothner, Segall & Greenstone, Anthony Segall, Joshua Adams, and Anthony Resnick for Defendant and Respondent.

OPINION

IKOLA, J.

The Anaheim Union High School District (the District) appeals from a judgment confirming an arbitration award in favor of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Local 3112, AFL-CIO (the Union). The District contends the court was required to vacate the arbitration award because the arbitrator exceeded his powers when he ruled that the District violated the collective bargaining agreement between the parties by reducing the work year of certain classified employees without the consent of the Union and the employees. We affirm the judgment.

FACTS

The arbitrator’s opinion and award summarized the following undisputed facts. In 2009, the District decided to discontinue and reduce some classified employment positions due to the poor economy and an anticipated reduction in state funding for subsidized student meals. With respect to food service and transportation staffing, the District asked the Union to negotiate cost saving options. The Union replied with a willingness to discuss these subjects with the District but not to negotiate over any contractual provisions affecting hours of service or layoff. The District decided to eliminate summer school and to layoff food service and transportation workers while at the same time offering to reemploy them in jobs with shorter work years. Most, if not all, of the impacted employees accepted reductions, but did so unwillingly and lined out the word “voluntary” on the consent forms. The Union filed grievances on behalf of the food service and transportation workers, alleging the District had unilaterally reduced their work hours in violation of the collective bargaining agreement. The District denied the grievances. The Union appealed the grievances to arbitration.[1] The District stipulated to the arbitrability of all issues except one.[2]

The arbitrator found the District suffered from a lack of funds and was authorized to layoff employees for lack of funds and lack of work. But the arbitrator ruled the District violated the collective bargaining agreement by reducing the employees’ work year without the voluntary agreement of the employees and the Union. The arbitrator remanded the determination of the appropriate remedy to the parties, but retained jurisdiction in the event of a dispute.

DISCUSSION

Based on San Mateo City School Dist. v. Public Employment Relations Bd. (1983) 33 Cal.3d 850 (San Mateo), Board of Education v. Round Valley Teachers Assn. (1996) 13 Cal.4th 269 (Round Valley), and California School Employees Assn. v. King City Union Elementary School Dist. (1981) 116 Cal.App.3d 695 (King City), the District contends the arbitrator exceeded his powers and therefore the court was required to vacate the arbitration award under Code of Civil Procedure section 1286.2, subdivision (a)(4).[3]

Since the facts are undisputed, we independently review the court’s order granting the Union’s petition to confirm the arbitration award and denying the District’s motion to vacate it. (Lindenstadt v. Staff Builders, Inc. (1997) 55 Cal.App.4th 882, 892, fn. 7.) “‘[W]hether the arbitrator exceeded his or her powers..., and thus whether the award should have been vacated on that basis, is reviewed on appeal de novo.’” (Ahdout v. Hekmatjah (2013) 213 Cal.App.4th 21, 33.)

The Educational Employment Relations Act (Gov. Code, § 3540 et seq.) (EERA) governs the collective bargaining rights of public school employees. (3 Witkin, Summary of Cal. Law (10th ed. 2005) Agency and Employment, § 567, p. 678.) The EERA requires a public school employer to meet and negotiate with its employees’ exclusive representative concerning “matters within the scope of representation” (Gov. Code, § 3543.3) and permits the employer and the representative to enter into a written agreement covering matters within the scope of representation (Gov. Code, § 3540.1, subd. (h)). The scope of representation is “limited to matters relating to wages, hours of employment, and other terms and conditions of employment.” (Gov. Code, § 3543.2, subd. (a).) “All matters not specifically enumerated [in the EERA] are reserved to the public school employer and may not be a subject of meeting and negotiation....” (Ibid.)

Government Code section 3540 of the EERA is particularly significant to this case. The statute specifies that the EERA does not “supersede other provisions of the Education Code....” (Gov. Code, § 3540.) As discussed below, our Supreme Court has interpreted this statutory language to preserve the mandatory and nonnegotiable nature of certain Education ...


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