Court backs Annapolis in dispute with fire union

June 12, 1994|By Dana Hedgpeth | Dana Hedgpeth,Sun Staff Writer

The Maryland Court of Special Appeals has agreed that lieutenants and captains in the Annapolis Fire Department are supervisory personnel and ineligible to be members of the firefighters union.

The ruling, issued Friday, upholds a decision by the Anne Arundel County Circuit Court.

zTC The union, the Annapolis Professional Firefighters, sued in July 1993 to keep the city from removing captains and lieutenants from the union.

The action by the city would have reduced the union membership by 25 percent and taken the union president and secretary, both of whom are members of the bargaining committee and are lieutenants, from its ranks.

Alan M. Wilner, chief judge of the state's intermediate appellate court, wrote that because captains and lieutenants are in a supervisory position, the city acted appropriately in removing them from the union.

"We believe that the inclusion of supervisory ranks with nonsupervisory personnel is clearly illegal, so we are pleased," said Jonathan A. Hodgson, the former city attorney who argued the case. "Supervisors shouldn't be in the same unit as nonsupervisors."

In July 1973, city negotiators tried to remove the captains and lieutenants from the union. After lengthy negotiations, the city agreed to allow lieutenants to remain in the bargaining unit until October.

That agreement expired before the city and the unions could reach agreement.

The union first filed its complaint with the Division of Labor and Industry, claiming that the city's removal of the captains and lieutenants "was interfering with the employees' right of self-organization" and that it was "refusing to negotiate in good faith." Later, the union filed the same complaints in Circuit Court.

The lower court ruled that the union members "failed to establish that they will suffer immediate, irreparable injury which cannot // be readily, adequately and completely compensated with money," the opinion said.

The Court of Special Appeals also advised the union to pursue the issue of captains and lieutenants as members with the Annapolis city council.

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