Wash. State Council of County & City Emps. v. City of Spokane (Majority)Annotate this Case
The collective bargaining contract between the Washington State Council of County and City Employees, AFSCME Council 2 (Union) and the City of Spokane expired on December 31, 2020. Prior to its expiration, the Union wrote to the City’s labor relations manager that it desired to engage in traditional labor negotiations for renewal of the contract and included proposed ground rules for negotiations. The rules included a condition that the negotiating meetings be closed to the public. In response, the City informed the Union it intended to conduct the bargaining negotiations open to the public, consistent with the 2019 revision of section 40 of the city charter. Through counsel, the Union drafted an opinion letter pointing out that the City’s open bargaining rule was a violation of state law to which the City responded that it had not implemented open bargaining and were willing to negotiate in good faith. The issue this case presented for the Washington Supreme Court’s review was whether the municipal ordinance, requiring all collective bargaining between the city and union representatives be conducted in a manner open to the public, was preempted by state law and unconstitutional under the Washington State Constitution. The trial court ruled that section 40 of the city charter was preempted by state law; to this, the Supreme Court concurred and affirmed judgment.