Washington State Supreme Court Allows Staffing Decision to Stand

The Supreme Court of Washington ruled last week that a decision by the Court of Appeals holding that staffing is a bargainable subject for firefighters, will not be overturned. The case was brought by the City of Everett in an effort to overturn a decision by the state’s Public Employment Relations Commission.

PERC concluded that a Union proposal to increase the minimum crew on duty for each shift was a mandatory subject of bargaining. More specifically, PERC concluded that staffing is a mandatory subject for bargaining when it has “a demonstratedly direct relationship” to workload and safety, as is the case for firefighters.

The city argued that staffing was a management prerogative that it could not be forced to bargain over, and/or submit to arbitration. Five justices unanimously agreed that the Court of Appeals decision upholding PERC would stand, and refused to hear the appeal of the city. Here is a copy of the Supreme Court’s order.

Here is an earlier post that explains the Court of Appeal’s ruling from October, 2019.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 45 years of fire service experience and 35 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014, 4th ed. 2022) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
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