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Alfonso v. State ex rel. Florida Public Employees Counsel 79, AFSCME, AFL-CIO

Florida Court of Appeals, Third District

June 6, 2018

Gilberto Alfonso, et al., Appellants,
v.
State of Florida ex rel. Florida Public Employees Counsel 79, AFSCME, AFL-CIO, et al., Appellees.

         Not final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.

          An appeal from the Circuit Court for Miami-Dade County No. 13-21908, Bronwyn C. Miller, Judge.

          Feiler & Leach, P.L. and Martin E. Leach, for appellants.

          Stacy Wein; Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C., and William R. Radford, for appellees.

          Before SUAREZ, LAGOA, and SCALES, JJ.

          SUAREZ, J.

         The Appellants[1] seek to reverse an order denying their motions to intervene in the lawsuit between the City of Hialeah [the "City"] and the AFL-CIO Union ["Union"]. We affirm, as the intervention requested would have impermissibly interjected new issues into this already protracted litigation.

         In 2009, the City and the Union began negotiating a new Collective Bargaining Agreement ["CBA"] to succeed their existing CBA set to expire on September 30, 2009. The City was in the midst of an economic crisis and expected a serious budgetary shortfall during the fiscal year 2009-2010. As a result, it sought concessions from the Union. The Union resisted. After several unsuccessful negotiating sessions with the Union, the City declared an impasse in December 2009 and, as required, notified the Florida Public Employees Relations Commission ["PERC"] of the impasse. The parties continued to engage in negotiations unsuccessfully.

         In May, 2010, a special magistrate selected by the parties, Thomas Terrill, conducted an impasse hearing pursuant to the Public Employees Relations Act. Special Magistrate Terrill concluded that the City proved by clear and convincing evidence that the City was suffering a severe budgetary shortfall and recommended the City be awarded economic concessions. Special Magistrate Terrill released his Recommended Decision on June 18, 2010. On July 13, 2010, without waiting for the impasse proceedings to conclude, the City implemented an impasse resolution that resulted in an approximately 30% cut to its employees' wages, in addition to a sharp increase in the City-provided health insurance plan costs, among other things. The record indicates that the City engaged in the reduction in wages and benefits from July 13, 2010 through March 4, 2011. It is important to note that during that time period, the Appellants were active City employees and Union members directly affected by the City's actions. The Union interpreted the City's actions to be in violation of section 447.403, Florida Statutes (2010), and to be a violation of the Union's right to collectively bargain on its members' behalf. As a result, the Union filed an unfair labor practice claim with the PERC against the City for violation of section 447.501(1)(a) and (c) and alleged the City unilaterally altered the terms and conditions of the bargaining unit's members before the impasse procedures were completed.

         The PERC agreed with the Union, and on March 4, 2011, entered a Final Order incorporating Special Magistrate Terrill's Recommended Decision and found that the City engaged in an unfair labor practice in violation of sections 447.501(1)(a) and (c), and ordered the City to do the following:

• Rescind the Impasse Resolution action taken by the City Council on July 13, 2010;
• Conduct a legislative body hearing in a manner consistent with the requirements of Section 447.403, Florida Statutes;
• Post immediately for sixty days in conspicuous locations where notices to bargaining unit employees are customarily posted, copies of the notice to employees which states that the City will cease the conduct set forth in paragraph one above and ...

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