STATE OF CONNECTICUT et al. v. CONNECTICUT STATE BOARD OF LABOR RELATIONS et al., SC 18259

Judicial District of New Britain

 

Labor; Unions; Whether State Police Captains and Lieutenants are

"Managerial Employees" under General Statutes 5-270 (g) and Thus Exempt From Collective Bargaining; Whether Defendant's Interpretation of 5-270 (g) Causes Unworkable Results; Whether Court Improperly Failed to Review the Legislative History of 5-270 (g). The defendant certified the Connecticut State Employee Association (union) as the exclusive collective bargaining representative of state police captains and lieutenants. The department of public safety, acting through the office of labor relations of the Connecticut office of public safety (collectively, the state), refused to bargain with the union, claiming that captains and lieutenants are excluded from collective bargaining because they are "managerial employees," as defined in General Statutes 5-270 (g). The defendant subsequently ruled that the state had improperly refused to bargain with the union. It noted that under 5-270 (g), a managerial employee performs no fewer than two of the following tasks: (1) directs a subunit or facility of a major division of an agency; (2) develops and evaluates goals and objectives that are consistent with agency mission and policy; (3) participates in the formulation of agency policy; or (4) plays a major role in the administration of collective bargaining agreements or major personnel decisions. As to the third and fourth criteria, the defendant essentially found that there was no question that captains and lieutenants do not engage in these tasks. As to the second criterion, it found that captains and lieutenants have very little autonomy or authority over major decisions that affect their operations. It therefore concluded that captains and lieutenants are not managerial employees and are therefore not exempt from collective bargaining. The trial court affirmed the board's ruling. In so ruling, it noted that the defendant had, on two prior occasions, ruled that captains and lieutenants did not satisfy the second and third criteria of 5-270 (g). It then indicated that it was deferring to the defendant's prior interpretation of those criteria, and it found that the defendant's ruling was supported by substantial evidence. Moreover, it rejected the state's claim that the defendant had improperly failed to consider the legislative history of 5-270 (g), which the state asserted recognized the need to have managerial employees excluded from unions so that their loyalties would not be divided between the mission of the agency and the interests of the union. The court found that the language of 5-270 (g) is plain and unambiguous and that there was no need to look to legislative history. In addition, it rejected the state's claim that the defendant's ruling is unworkable. The state asserted that because captains and lieutenants might temporarily fill in at higher levels of command, they might have to make decisions that would impact the bargaining unit to which they would later return, thereby creating a conflict of interest. The court found that this concern was hypothetical, and it indicated that in many instances, union members temporarily fill in at different levels of service and have to act responsibly in making decisions with the understanding that they will be returning to their former positions. In this appeal, the Supreme Court will determine whether the trial court properly affirmed the defendant's ruling.