In the Matter of a Petition for Independent Review Thomas Ruffenach, employee, Relator,
Metropolitan Council, Metro Transit Division, public employer, Respondent, Bureau of Mediation Services, Respondent.
of Mediation Services File No. 19PIR0218
Richard T. Wylie, Minneapolis, Minnesota (for relator)
Bloodhart, General Counsel, Daniel L. Abelson, Associate
General Counsel, Metropolitan Council, St. Paul, Minnesota
(for respondent Metropolitan Council)
Ellison, Attorney General, Kelly S. Kemp, Assistant Attorney
General, St. Paul, Minnesota (for respondent Bureau of
L. Naughton, League of Minnesota Cities, St. Paul, Minnesota
(for amici curiae League of Minnesota Cities and Association
of Minnesota Counties)
Considered and decided by Smith, Tracy M., Presiding Judge;
Halbrooks, Judge; and Larkin, Judge.
Stat. § 179A.25 (2018) does not provide for independent
review by the Bureau of Mediation Services of a grievance
arising out of terms and conditions of employment when a
collective-bargaining agreement governing the employment
provides a procedure for arbitration of the grievance.
challenges the dismissal by respondent Bureau of Mediation
Services (BMS) of relator's petition under Minn. Stat.
§ 179A.25 seeking independent review of a grievance
arising from his discharge from employment by respondent
Metropolitan Council, Metro Transit Division (MTC). Relator
asserts that BMS erred by determining that section 179A.25
does not apply because relator's employment was governed
by a collective-bargaining agreement (CBA) with a grievance
procedure that included independent review, even though
relator's union elected not to pursue independent review
of his discharge. We affirm.
Thomas Ruffenach is a former bus operator for MTC. As an
employee of MTC, Ruffenach was a member of the Amalgamated
Transit Union, Local 1005 (the union), which had a CBA with
MTC. The CBA states that the union is "the sole
collective bargaining representative of all its employees
covered by this Agreement . . . on all questions and
grievances . . . affecting such employees." The CBA
establishes a three-step grievance procedure applicable to
discipline or discharge decisions. First, the union may file
a written grievance with MTC, meet with an MTC
representative, and receive a written response. Second, the
union may appeal MTC's written response, meet again with
MTC, and receive a second written response. Third, if the
grievance is not resolved by the first two steps, the union
may submit the grievance to an arbitrator.
respect to Ruffenach's discharge, the union followed the
first two steps of the grievance procedure, but elected not
to pursue arbitration. Ruffenach then filed a petition with
BMS seeking independent review of his grievance under Minn.
Stat. § 179A.25. BMS dismissed the petition, concluding
that, because Ruffenach had access to a grievance procedure
as required by Minn. Stat. § 179A.20, subd. 4 ...