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E-FILED 2017 NOV 28 11:41 AM POLK - CLERK OF DISTRICT COURT

IN THE IOWA DISTRICT COURT FOR POLK COUNTY

UE LOCAL 893/IUP, CASE NO. LACL 137250

Plaintiff,

vs. RULING ON MOTIONS FOR


SUMMARY JUDGMENT
STATE OF IOWA,

Defendant.

A contested hearing on the parties cross-motions for summary judgment was

held before the undersigned on October 13, 2017 as previously scheduled. Upon

consideration of the arguments made at the hearing, and having reviewed the file and

being otherwise duly advised in the premises, the court rules as follows:

This is an action filed by the plaintiff pursuant to Iowa Code 20.17(5) to enforce

the terms of an alleged collective bargaining agreement between the parties; the

defendant contends that there is no agreement. Each side contends that it is entitled to

judgment as a matter of law and has filed a motion for summary judgment on a stipulated

set of facts. The procedural standards regarding summary judgment are well settled in

Iowa. It is the moving partys burden to establish both the absence of any material

factual issues and its entitlement to judgment as a matter of law. IowaR.Civ.P. 1.981(3);

Sallee v. Stewart, 827 N.W.2d 128, 132-133 (Iowa 2013). In determining whether this

burden has been met, the court reviews the record in a light most favorable to the

nonmoving party, who is entitled to every legitimate inference that reasonably can be

deduced from the evidence, Bass v. J.C. Penney Co., Inc., 880 N.W.2d 751, 755 (Iowa

2016). Summary judgment is inappropriate if reasonable minds can differ on how the
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issue should be resolved, even when the facts are undisputed. Frontier Leasing Corp. v.

Links Engineering, LLC, 781 N.W.2d 772, 775-76 (Iowa 2010). However, there is no

fact issue if the only dispute concerns the legal consequences flowing from undisputed

facts; in that instance, summary judgment would be appropriate. Baker v. Iowa City, 867

N.W.2d 44, 51 (Iowa 2015).

The following facts are taken from the parties stipulation of facts filed on

September 1, 2017:

1. The plaintiff and defendant were parties to collective


bargaining agreements which were effective July 1,
2015 through June 30, 2017.
2. In preparation for the negotiations for the successor
collective bargaining agreement, in May 2016, the
plaintiff and the defendant agreed to a 2017-2019
Negotiation Calendar.
3. The plaintiff made an initial bargaining position for a
successor collective bargaining agreement to the
defendant pursuant to Iowa Code 20.17(3) on
December 6, 2016.
4. The defendant made its initial bargaining position to the
plaintiff pursuant to Iowa Code 20.17(3) on December
20, 2016.
5. On January 10, 2017, the plaintiff and the defendant
met for a negotiation session.
6. The January 10, 2017 bargaining session began with the
plaintiff asking questions about the defendants initial
bargaining position. The defendant did not deviate
from its initial bargaining position as it was waiting to
see whether the Iowa Legislature intended to amend
chapter 20 and the plaintiff did not deviate from its
initial bargaining position as it required more details
regarding the defendants insurance proposal.
7. The plaintiff and the defendant agreed to cancel
bargaining sessions previously scheduled for January
11, 18 and 19.

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8. At no time prior to and during the January 10, 2017


bargaining session did the plaintiff accept the
defendants bargaining position.
9. The defendant at no time prior to February 10, 2017
withdrew its initial bargaining position.
10. On February 10, 2017, the plaintiff informed the
defendant that their Negotiation Committee had
unanimously voted to accept the defendants December
20, 2016 initial proposal.
11. On February 14, 2017, the plaintiffs members voted
unanimously to ratify the defendants December 20,
2016 initial proposal.
12. At no time prior to ratification by the plaintiff on
February 14, 2017 of the defendants December 20,
2016 initial proposal did the defendant withdraw its
December 20, 2016 initial proposal.
Stipulation of Facts, 7-18.

The plaintiff urges in its motion that traditional contract principles of offer,

acceptance and consideration should be applied to determine whether a valid collective

bargaining agreement was reached, and that application of those principles results in such

a conclusion as a matter of law. In response, the defendant renews its argument from its

motion to dismiss that these proceedings should be stayed consistent with the doctrine of

primary jurisdiction to allow the Public Employment Relations Board the opportunity to

make the determination on whether a valid agreement was reached. In the alternative, the

defendant argues that an agreement was not reached under either traditional common law

contract principles or under federal caselaw applicable to collective bargaining

agreements.1

1
Unlike in its motion to dismiss, the defendant makes no argument on summary judgment regarding the
impact of regulations promulgated by PERB requiring the public employer to approve the ratified
agreement before it is effective. See 621 IAC 6.4(2).

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The court addressed the defendants argument regarding application of the

primary jurisdiction doctrine in its ruling on the defendants motion to dismiss, and that

ruling is equally viable at the summary judgment stage. The court incorporates that part

of its analysis from its ruling on the motion to dismiss by reference; the court will not be

staying these proceedings pursuant to the doctrine of primary jurisdiction. Sioux City

Police Officers Assn v. City of Sioux City, 495 N.W.2d 687, 693 (Iowa 1993); Norton

v. Adair County, 441 N.W.2d 347, 354 (Iowa 1989).

Regarding the appropriate standard in gauging the alleged formation of a

collective bargaining agreement, the court agrees with the defendant that technical rules

of contract do not control whether a collective bargaining agreement has been reached.

Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co. of Mason City, Iowa v. N.L.R.B., 659 F.2d 87, 89 (8th Cir.

1981). As noted by the Eighth Circuit, this is the result of the differing dynamic of the

process in formulating a collective bargaining agreement:

In a private commercial setting, the parties voluntarily


contract with each other. Traditional contract law therefore
provides that an offer terminates if rejected by the offeree,
thus allowing the offering party free to strike a bargain
elsewhere, with no danger of being bound to more than one
contract. In contrast, the National Labor Relations Act
compels the employer and the duly certified union to deal
with each other and to bargain in good faith. Upon
rejection of an offer, the offeror may not seek another
contracting party. As explained by the Supreme Court,
The choice is generally not between entering or refusing
to enter into a relationship, for that in all probability
preexists the negotiations.

Id. (quoting United Steelworkers of America v. Warrior & Gulf Navigation Co., 363 U.S.

574, 580, 80 S.Ct. 1347, 1352 (1959)). As a result, the common law rule that a rejection

or counterproposal necessarily terminates the offer is not strictly followed; in its place, a

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policy is followed that an offer, once made, will remain on the table unless explicitly

withdrawn by the offeror or unless circumstances arise which would lead the parties to

reasonably believe that the offer had been withdrawn. Id. at 89, 90. Accordingly, the

court will apply this policy to the stipulated record in determining whether a valid

collective bargaining agreement was reached.

There is no dispute that either at the time the plaintiff accepted the defendants

initial bargaining position on February 10, 2017, or when the plaintiffs membership

ratified that proposal on February 14, the defendant had not expressly withdrawn that

offer. Stipulation of Facts, 15, 18. Therefore, that offer remained on the table and

could have been accepted by the plaintiff, unless circumstances had arisen that would

have lead the parties to reasonably believe that the offer had been withdrawn. The

defendant argues that there are two circumstances that meet this threshold: 1) the fact

that the plaintiff reaffirmed its initial bargaining position at the January 10 bargaining

session; and 2) the fact that the defendant was waiting for legislative action before

deviating from its initial position, resulting in the cancellation of further bargaining

sessions in the interim.

As to the first argument, it is internally inconsistent with the defendants position

on the appropriate standard for determining whether a valid collective bargaining

agreement was formed. To hold that a partys reluctance to deviate from an initial

position until more information is obtained regarding the others position constitutes a

rejection of the others position is squarely at odds with the policy that an offer can

remain on the table to be considered at a later time. The parties reluctance to deviate

from their respective positions is not grounds for concluding that the defendants initial

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position was impliedly withdrawn. See N.L.R.B. v. Burkart Foam, Inc., 848 F.2d 825,

830 (7th Cir. 1988) (employers continued adherence to its position allowed offer to

remain on table); N.L.R.B. v. Auciello Iron Works, Inc., 980 F.2d 804, 809 (1st Cir. 1992)

(unions storming out ofmeeting without setting another meeting date or saying

farewell insufficient to establish inference that employers offer had been rejected; a

mere uncommunicated, unilateral judgment by the Company that rejection had occurred

would, by itself, be ineffective to remove its proposal from the table).

Likewise, the defendants reluctance to deviate from its initial position until it

could determine what legislative action was forthcoming in the area of collective

bargaining does not translate to that position being contingent upon and subject to

legislative action. Defendants Memorandum of Authorities, p. 18. Counsels rhetorical

spin on this issue goes far beyond what the parties have agreed to in their stipulation; to

agree that a party will not move from its stated position as it surveys possible legislative

options cannot reasonably form the basis for the conclusion that its position should be

considered to be withdrawn. If an intervening strike has been found insufficient to

establish an inference of withdrawal, Presto Casting Co. v. N.L.R.B., 708 F.2d 495, 498

(9th Cir. 1983), clearly a wait and see approach by the employer would be equally

lacking. On the present record, there is no basis for the court to conclude that the parties

could reasonably believe that the states initial position had been withdrawn.

As a result, consistent with Pepsi-Cola, that position remained on the table and

was available for acceptance by the plaintiff. There is no dispute regarding the definite

nature of that acceptance or the memberships required ratification, all as required by

Iowa Code 20.17. Accordingly, a valid collective bargaining agreement was formed

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upon that acceptance and ratification, on the terms contained in the defendants initial

position.

IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the plaintiffs motion for summary

judgment is granted and the defendants motion for summary judgment is denied.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the collective bargaining agreement between

the parties accepted by the plaintiff and ratified by its members is valid and enforceable

on the terms agreed to, and the parties are directed to perform as required under that

agreement.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the costs associated with this action are

assessed to the defendant.

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State of Iowa Courts

Type: OTHER ORDER

Case Number Case Title


LACL137250 UE LOCAL 893 IUP VS STATE OF IOWA

So Ordered

Electronically signed on 2017-11-28 11:41:08 page 8 of 8