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On November 20, 2012, the Supreme Court of Missouri issued its long awaited decision in the cases of Eastern Missouri Coalition Of Police, Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 15 v. City of Chesterfield and Eastern Missouri Coalition of Police, Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 15 v. City of University City.  A copy of the decision can be found here.

In this case, the Union (Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 15) claimed to represent the majority of the police officers in Chesterfield and University City based on signed representation cards.  After obtaining the cards, the Union requested that Chesterfield and University City engage in collective bargaining with the Union over the officers’ terms and conditions of employment.  Both Cities refused and the Union filed suit, arguing that the Cities’ refusal to engage in collective bargaining violated the Missouri Constitution.

As predicted, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled that the right to organize and bargain collectively recognized in Article I, Section 29 of the Missouri Constitution “inherently imposes a duty on each City to bargain collectively with the exclusive bargaining representative elected by its police officers and sergeants with a goal of reaching an agreement.”

The companion case of American Federation of Teachers vs. Ledbetter (which can be found here) is equally important.  In Ledbetter, the Missouri Supreme Court confirmed that the Missouri Constitution requires a public employer to bargain in good faith, holding that “collective bargaining, as a technical term, has been construed to include a duty to negotiate in good faith—even when it was not required explicitly by statute.”  Ledbetter also explains what it means to negotiate “in good faith” in great detail.

Not to say “we told you so,” but we did—more than five years ago, Hesse Martone predicted that cities and municipalities would be required to bargain collectively with unions representing their employees as a result of an earlier Missouri Supreme Court decision.  We also advised that public employees were obligated to bargain in good faith, rather than simply “meeting and conferring” as has been required in the past.  A copy of our original article can be found here.

Questions concerning these rulings and their impact can be directed to Chris Hesse, Andy Martone or Rick Stewart.