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Law Enforcement Labor Services, Inc. v. Sherburne County

May 3, 2005

LAW ENFORCEMENT LABOR SERVICES, INC., LOCAL NO. 158, ET AL., APPELLANTS,
v.
SHERBURNE COUNTY, ET AL., RESPONDENTS.



Sherburne County District Court File No. C1-04-590.

Considered and decided by Willis, Presiding Judge; Stoneburner, Judge; and Poritsky, Judge.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

I. The establishment of a random drug-testing policy for employees in safety-sensitive positions, as authorized by Minn. Stat. § 181.951, subd. 4 (2004), is an inherent managerial right and is not subject to collective bargaining. But the implementation of the provisions of such a policy that are not inextricably intertwined with the policy's establishment are subject to collective bargaining.

II. The unilateral imposition of bargainable terms of a random drug-testing policy constitutes an unfair labor practice when an employer refuses to meet and negotiate concerning those terms, and a union does not waive its right to bargain by refusing an employer's offer to "meet and confer" on those terms.

III. A random drug-testing policy for employees holding "safety-sensitive" positions does not violate the Fourth Amendment rights of employees who are subject to testing under that policy.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Poritsky, Judge

Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded

Poritsky, Judge*fn1

OPINION

This appeal is from a summary judgment dismissing appellant-labor union's claims seeking relief from a county-employer's unilateral implementation of a random drug-testing policy, established by the county in accordance with Minn. Stat. § 181.951, subd. 4 (2004). We conclude that the establishment of a random drug-testing policy as expressly authorized by statute, including the designation of which employees are in the "safety-sensitive" positions, is not subject to collective bargaining even though it affects the terms and conditions of employment. But aspects of the implementation of the policy that are not inextricably intertwined with its establishment are mandatory subjects for collective bargaining. Thus, when the county unilaterally imposed terms and conditions of employment under such a policy without providing an opportunity to bargain the terms of its implementation, the county committed an unfair labor practice. Appellants did not waive their right to pursue an unfair-labor-practice claim when they refused the county's offer to "meet and confer" on the policy. Finally, we conclude that the establishment of a random drug-testing policy for employees in safety-sensitive positions does not violate the employees' Fourth Amendment rights. We therefore (1) affirm the district court's determination that the establishment of the policy does not constitute an unfair labor practice, (2) affirm the court's denial of the Fourth Amendment claim, but (3) reverse the district court's determination that the parties had no obligation to meet and negotiate those aspects of the policy's implementation that are severable from its establishment, and remand with directions that the district court allow the union to pursue its unfair-labor-practice claim, insofar as the claim relates to bargainable terms of the policy's implementation.

FACTS

As exclusive representative, the appellant labor union*fn2 is responsible for contract negotiations, grievance representation, and internal-affairs representation for its members. In September 2003, Sherburne County's human resources director sent a memorandum to the union proposing to amend the county's existing alcohol and drug use policy to include random drug testing of employees in safety-sensitive positions in accordance with the Minnesota Drug and Alcohol Testing in the Workplace Act (Workplace Testing Act). The memorandum stated that the county was willing to meet and confer on the proposed amendments. The union replied with its position that the proposed amendments constituted terms and conditions of employment under the Minnesota Public Employment Labor Relations Act (PELRA), so that the county was required to meet and negotiate over the proposed amendments prior to implementation. At about the same time, the county met and conferred with another bargaining unit, which had no objection to the proposed policy changes. The county then adopted the amendments in October 2003.

In January 2004, the union reiterated its opposition to the amendments and, in February 2004, submitted a grievance under its labor agreement with the county, alleging failure to meet and negotiate over terms and conditions of employment. Just prior to filing the grievance the union learned that the county had tested three employees in accordance with the amended policy.

LELS and Local No. 158, the local representing patrol deputies, investigators, and transport/security deputies, filed a complaint in district court, seeking injunctive relief restraining the county from unilaterally implementing the policy, damages, and an order requiring the county to meet and negotiate over the terms of the drug-testing policy. The district court denied the union's application for a temporary restraining order. After both parties moved for summary judgment, the district court granted the union's motion to ...


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