§ 1601 Statement of policy.
It is the declared policy of the State and the purpose of this chapter to promote harmonious and cooperative relationships between public employers and their employees, employed as police officers and firefighters, and to protect the public by assuring the orderly and uninterrupted operations and functions of public safety services. These policies are best effectuated by:
(1) Granting to police officers and firefighters the right of organization and representation;
(2) Obligating public employers and organizations of police officers and firefighters which have been certified as representing their employees to enter into collective bargaining negotiations with the willingness to resolve disputes relating to terms and conditions of employment and to reduce to writing any agreements reached through such negotiations; and
(3) Empowering the Public Employment Relations Board to assist in resolving disputes between police officers or firefighters and their public employers and to administer this chapter.
§ 1602 Definitions.
(a) "Appropriate bargaining unit" or "bargaining unit" means a group of police officers or firefighters designated by the Public Employment Relations Board as appropriate for representation by an employee organization for purposes of collective bargaining.
(b) "Binding interest arbitration" means the procedure by which the Public Employment Relations Board shall make written findings of fact and a decision for final and binding resolution of an impasse arising out of collective bargaining.
(c) "Board" means the Public Employment Relations Board established by § 4006 of Title 14 and made applicable to this chapter by § 1306 of this title.
(d) "Certification" means official recognition by the Board, following a secret-ballot election, that an employee organization is the exclusive representative for all employees in an appropriate bargaining unit.
(e) "Collective bargaining" means the performance of the mutual obligation of a public employer through its designated representatives and the exclusive bargaining representative to confer and negotiate in good faith with respect to terms and conditions of employment, and to execute a written contract incorporating any agreements reached. However, this obligation does not compel either party to agree to a proposal or require the making of a concession.
(f) "Decertification" means the withdrawal by the Board of an employee organization's official designation as exclusive representative following a decertification election which shows that the exclusive representative no longer has the support of a majority of the members in an appropriate bargaining unit.
(g) "Employee organization" means any organization which admits to membership police officers or firefighters employed by a public employer and which has as a purpose the representation of such employees in collective bargaining, and includes any person acting as an officer, representative or agent of said organization.
(h) "Exclusive bargaining representative" or "exclusive representative" means the employee organization which as a result of certification by the Board has the right and responsibility to be the collective bargaining agent of all employees in that bargaining unit.
(i) "Impasse" means the failure of a public employer and the exclusive bargaining representative to reach agreement in the course of collective bargaining.
(j) "Mediation" means an effort by an impartial third-party confidentially to assist in reconciling an impasse between the public employer and the exclusive bargaining representative regarding terms and conditions of employment.
(k) "Public employee" or "employee" means any police officer or firefighter employed by a public employer except those determined by the Board to be inappropriate for inclusion in the bargaining unit; provided, however, that for the purposes of this chapter, this term shall not include any state employee covered under the State Merit System.
(l ) "Public employer" or "employer" means the State or political subdivisions of the State or any agency thereof, any county, or any agency thereof, or any municipal corporation or municipality, city or town located within the State or any agency thereof, which:
(1) Upon the affirmative legislative act of its common council or other governing body has elected to come within Chapter 13 of this title;
(2) Hereafter elects to come within this chapter; or
(3) Employs 25 or more full-time employees. For the purposes of this paragraph, "employees" shall include each and every person employed by the public employer except:
a. Any person elected by popular vote; and
b. Any person appointed to serve on a board or commission.
(m) "Strike" means a public employee's failure, in concerted action with others, to report for duty, or the public employee's wilful absence from the public employee's position, or the public employee's stoppage or deliberate slowing down of work, or the public employee's withholding in whole or in part from the full, faithful and proper performance of the public employee's duties of employment, or the public employee's involvement in a concerted interruption of operations of a public employer for the purpose of inducing, influencing or coercing a change in the conditions, compensation rights, privileges or obligations of public employment; however, nothing shall limit or impair the right of any public employee to lawfully express or communicate a complaint or opinion on any matter related to terms and conditions of employment.
(n) "Terms and conditions of employment" means matters concerning or related to wages, salaries, hours, grievance procedures and working conditions; provided, however, that such term shall not include those matters determined by this chapter or any other law of the State to be within the exclusive prerogative of the public employer.
§ 1603 Employee rights.
Employees shall have the right to:
(1) Organize, form, join or assist any employee organization, provided that membership in, or an obligation to pay any dues, fees, assessments or other charges to, an employee organization shall not be required as a condition of employment.
(2) Negotiate collectively or grieve through representatives of their own choosing.
(3) Engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection insofar as any such activity is not prohibited by this chapter or any other law of the State.
(4) Be represented by their exclusive representative, if any, without discrimination.
§ 1604 Employee organization as exclusive representative.
(a) The employee organization designated or selected for the purpose of collective bargaining by the majority of the employees in an appropriate collective bargaining unit shall be the exclusive representative of all the employees in the unit for such purpose and shall have the duty to represent all unit employees without discrimination. Where an exclusive representative has been certified, a public employer shall not bargain in regard to matters covered by this chapter with any employee, group of employees or other employee organization.
(b) Nothing contained in this section shall prevent employees individually, or as a group, from presenting complaints to a public employer and from having such complaints adjusted without the intervention of the exclusive representative for the bargaining unit of which they are a part, as long as the representative is given an opportunity to be present at such adjustment and to make its view known, and as long as the adjustment is not inconsistent with the terms of an agreement between the public employer and the exclusive representative which is then in effect. The right of the exclusive representative shall not apply where the complaint involves matters of personal, embarrassing and confidential nature, and the complainant specifically requests, in writing, that the exclusive representative not be present.
(c) Any employee organization which has been certified as an exclusive representative shall have the right to have its dues deducted and collected by the employer from the salaries of those employees within the bargaining unit who authorize, in writing, the deduction of said dues. Such authorization is revocable at the employee's written request. Said deductions shall commence upon the exclusive representative's written request to the employer. Such right to deduction shall be in force for so long as the employee organization remains the exclusive bargaining representative for the employees in the unit. The public employer is expressly prohibited from any involvement in the collection of fines, penalties or special assessments levied on members by the exclusive representative.
§ 1605 Employer rights.
A public employer is not required to engage in collective bargaining on matters of inherent managerial policy which include, but are not limited to, such areas of discretion or policy as the functions and programs of the public employer, its standards of services, overall budget, utilization of technology, the organizational structure and the staffing levels, selection and direction of personnel.
§ 1606 Public Employment Relations Board.
The Board, established by § 4006 of Title 14, known as the "Public Employment Relations Board," shall be empowered to administer this chapter under rules and regulations which it shall adopt and publish.
§ 1607 Unfair labor practices — Enumerated.
(a) It is an unfair labor practice for a public employer or its designated representative to do any of the following:
(1) Interfere with, restrain or coerce any employee in or because of the exercise of any right guaranteed under this chapter.
(2) Dominate, interfere with or assist in the formation, existence or administration of any labor organization.
(3) Encourage or discourage membership in any employee organization by discrimination in regard to hiring, tenure or other terms and conditions of employment.
(4) Discharge or otherwise discriminate against an employee because the employee has signed or filed an affidavit, petition or complaint, or has given information or testimony under this chapter.
(5) Refuse to bargain collectively in good faith with an employee representative which is the exclusive representative of employees in an appropriate unit.
(6) Refuse or fail to comply with any provision of this chapter or with rules and regulations established by the Board pursuant to its responsibility to regulate the conduct of collective bargaining under this chapter.
(7) Refuse to reduce an agreement, reached as a result of collective bargaining, to writing and sign the resulting contract.
(8) Refuse to disclose any public record as defined by Chapter 100 of Title 29.
(b) It is an unfair labor practice for a public employee or for an employee organization or its designated representative to do any of the following:
(1) Interfere with, restrain or coerce any employee in or because of the exercise of any right guaranteed under this chapter.
(2) Refuse to bargain collectively in good faith with the public employer or its designated representative if the employee organization is an exclusive representative.
(3) Refuse or fail to comply with any provision of this chapter or with rules and regulations established by the Board pursuant to its responsibility to regulate the conduct of collective bargaining under this chapter.
(4) Refuse to reduce an agreement reached as a result of collective bargaining to writing and sign the resulting contract.
(5) Distribute organizational literature or otherwise solicit public employees during working hours in areas where the actual work of public employees is being performed in such a way as to hinder or interfere with the operation of the public employer. This paragraph shall not be construed to prohibit the distribution of literature during the employee's designated meal period or in such areas not specifically devoted to the performance of the employee's official duties.
(6) Hinder or prevent (by threats, intimidation, force or coercion of any kind) the pursuit of any lawful work or employment by any person, or unreasonably interfere with the entrance to or egress from any place of employment.
§ 1608 Unfair labor practices — Disposition of complaints.
(a) The Public Employment Relations Board is empowered and directed to prevent any unfair labor practice described in § 1607(a) and (b) of this title and to issue appropriate remedial orders. Whenever it is charged that anyone has engaged or is engaging in any unfair practice described in § 1607(a) and (b) of this title, the Board or any designated agent thereof shall have authority to issue and cause to be served upon such party a complaint stating the specific unfair practice charge and including a notice of hearing containing the date and place of hearing before the Board or any designated agent thereof. Evidence shall be taken and filed with the Board; provided, that no complaint shall issue based on any unfair labor practice occurring more than 180 days prior to the filing of the charge with the Board.
(b)(1) If, upon all the evidence taken, the Board shall determine that any party charged has engaged or is engaging in any such unfair practice, the Board shall state its findings of fact and conclusions of law and issue and cause to be served on such party an order requiring such party to cease and desist from such unfair practice, and to take such reasonable affirmative action as will effectuate the policies of this chapter, such as payment of damages and/or the reinstatement of employee; provided, however, that the Board shall not issue:
a. Any order providing for binding interest arbitration or any or all issues arising in collective bargaining between the parties involved; or
b. Any order, the effect of which is to compel concessions on any items arising in collective bargaining between the parties involved.
(2) If, upon the evidence taken, the Board shall determine that any party charged has not engaged or is not engaging in any such unfair practice, the Board shall state, in writing, its findings of fact and the conclusions of law and issues and dismiss the complaint.
(c) In addition to the powers granted by this section, the Board shall have the power, at any time during proceedings authorized by this section, to issue orders providing such temporary or preliminary relief as the Board deems just and proper, subject to the limitations of subsection (b) of this section.
§ 1609 Unfair labor practices — Appeals; petitions for enforcement.
(a) Any person or party adversely affected by a decision of the Board under § 1608 or § 1615 of this title may appeal that decision to the Chancery Court of this State. Such an appeal must be filed within 15 days of the date upon which the decision was rendered and shall not automatically act as a stay.
(b) The Board may petition the Chancery Court of this State for enforcement of any order issued under § 1608 or § 1615 of this title.
§ 1610 Bargaining unit determination.
(a) An employee organization desiring to be certified as the exclusive representative shall file a petition with the Board, accompanied by the uncoerced signatures of at least 30 percent of the public employees in the unit claimed to be appropriate, indicating a desire to be represented for the purpose of bargaining collectively with the public employer.
(b) If the Board or its duly authorized designee determines that a petition is properly filed and is accompanied by the requisite number of valid signatures, the Board or its designee shall proceed toward defining the appropriate bargaining unit by setting a date for hearing on the matter. If a petition is not properly filed and/or if it is not accompanied by the requisite number of valid signatures, the Board or its designee shall dismiss the petition.
(c) After holding such hearings as it deems necessary, the Board shall determine the appropriate bargaining unit. The Board may, by rule, delegate its unit definition authority to one or more of its members or to its Executive Director, provided that a unit definition order may be subject to review by the Board at the request of any party or upon the Board's own motion in accordance with rules and procedures established by the Board.
(d) In making its determination as to the appropriate bargaining unit, the Board or its designee shall consider such factors as the similarity of duties, skills and working conditions of the employees involved; the history and extent of the employee organization; the recommendations of the parties involved; the effect of overfragmentation of bargaining units on the efficient administration of government; and such other factors as the Board may deem appropriate.
(e) Procedures for redefining or modifying a unit shall be set forth in the rules and procedures established by the Board.
(f) Any bargaining unit designated as appropriate prior to the effective date of this chapter, for which an exclusive representative has been certified, shall so continue without the requirement of a review and possible redesignation until such time as a question concerning appropriateness is properly raised under this chapter. The appropriateness of the unit may be challenged by the public employer, 30 percent of the members of the unit, an employee organization, or the Board not more than 180 days nor less than 120 days prior to the expiration of any collective bargaining agreement in effect on the date of the passage of this chapter. The continued appropriateness of any bargaining unit designated as appropriate prior to the effective date of this chapter, for which an exclusive representative is not certified, may be challenged by the public employer, 30 percent of the members of the unit, an employee organization or the Board at any time up until 30 days prior to the holding of an election to determine representation.
§ 1611 Determination and certification of exclusive representative.
(a) Any employee organization seeking certification as exclusive representative in a designated appropriate bargaining unit shall file a petition with the Board. The petition must contain the uncoerced signatures of at least 30 percent of the employees within the designated appropriate bargaining unit. If the designated appropriate bargaining unit is sufficiently similar to the bargaining unit claimed to be appropriate in the petition filed pursuant to § 1610(a) of this title, such that the signatures submitted at that time represent at least 30 percent of the employees within the designated appropriate bargaining unit, those signatures shall be deemed sufficient for the purpose of this subsection. If the designated bargaining unit is not sufficiently similar to the bargaining unit claimed to be appropriate, the employee organization may continue to rely on the previously submitted uncoerced signatures of the employees who are in the designated bargaining unit and must supplement these signatures with uncoerced signatures of the employees who are in the designated bargaining unit and must supplement these signatures with uncoerced signatures of other employees within the designated appropriate bargaining unit, such that the signatures submitted represent at least 30 percent of the employees within the designated appropriate bargaining unit. No signature shall be considered valid if it was signed more than 12 months prior to the date on which the petition is filed.
(b) Where an employee organization has been certified as the exclusive representative, a group of employees within the bargaining unit may file a petition with the Board for decertification of the exclusive bargaining representative. The petition must contain the uncoerced signatures of at least 30 percent of the employees within the bargaining unit and allege that the employee organization presently certified is no longer the choice of the majority of the employees in the bargaining unit. If a lawful collective bargaining agreement of no more than 3 years' duration is in effect, no petition shall be entertained unless filed not more than 180 days nor less than 120 days prior to the expiration of such agreement. A decertification petition also may be filed if more than 1 year has elapsed from the date of certification of an exclusive bargaining representative and no collective bargaining agreement has been executed.
(c) If the Board determines that a petition is properly supported, timely filed and covers the designated appropriate bargaining unit, the Board shall cause an election of all eligible employees to be held within a reasonable time after the unit determination has been made, in accordance with procedures adopted by the Board, to determine if and by whom the employees wish to be represented. The election ballot shall contain, as choices to be made by the voter, the name of the petitioning or certified employee organization, the name or names of any other employee organization showing written proof of at least 10 percent representation of the public employees within the designated appropriate bargaining unit, in accordance with rules and procedures adopted by the Board, and a choice that the public employee does not desire to be represented by any of the named employee organization(s).
(d) The employee organization, if any, which receives the majority of the votes cast in an election shall be certified by the Board as the exclusive representative. In any election where there are more than 2 choices on the ballot and none of the choices receives a majority of the votes cast, a run-off election shall be conducted. The ballot in the run-off election shall contain the 2 choices on the original ballot that received the largest number of votes.
(e) No election shall be held pursuant to this section within 12 months from the date of a preceding valid election.
§ 1612 Employee organizations required to register and submit annual reports.
Every employee organization which has or seeks recognition as a representative of public employees under this chapter, shall file with the Board a registration report signed by its president or other appropriate officer. Such report shall be updated on an annual basis by any organization which continues to have or seeks recognition, shall be in a form prescribed by the Board and shall be accompanied by 2 copies of the employee organization's constitution and bylaws. All changes or amendments to such constitutions and bylaws shall be promptly reported to the Board.
§ 1613 Collective bargaining agreements.
(a) Collective bargaining shall commence at least 90 days prior to the expiration date of any current collective bargaining agreement or, in the case of a newly-certified exclusive representative, within a reasonable time after certification.
(b) Negotiating sessions, including strategy meetings of public employers, mediation and the deliberative process of binding interest arbitrators shall be exempt from Chapter 100 of Title 29. Hearings conducted by binding interest arbitrators shall be open to the public.
(c) The public employer and the exclusive bargaining representatives shall negotiate written grievance procedures by means of which bargaining unit employees, through their collective bargaining representatives, may appeal the interpretation or application of any term or terms of an existing collective bargaining agreement; such grievance procedures shall be included in any agreement entered into between the public employer and the exclusive bargaining representative.
(d) Any contract or agreement reached between a public employer and any exclusive representative shall be for a minimum period of 2 years from the effective date of such contract or agreement, unless otherwise mutually agreed upon by the public employer and the exclusive representative.
(e) No collective bargaining agreement shall be valid or enforceable if its implementation would be inconsistent with any statutory limitation on the public employer's funds, spending or budget, or would otherwise be contrary to law.
(f) Public employers shall file with the Board a copy of any agreements that have been negotiated with employee representatives following the consummation of negotiations. The Board shall maintain a current file of all such agreements.
§ 1614 Mediation.
(a) If, after a reasonable period of negotiations over the terms of an agreement or after a reasonable time following certification of an exclusive representative, no agreement has been signed, the parties may voluntarily submit to mediation. If, however, no agreement is reached between the parties by 60 days prior to the expiration date of an existing collective bargaining agreement, or, in the case of a newly-certified exclusive representative, within 60 days after negotiations have commenced, both parties shall immediately notify the Board of the status of negotiations.
(b) If the parties have not voluntarily agreed to enlist the services of a mediator and less than 30 days remain before the expiration date of the existing collective bargaining agreement, or, in the case of a newly-certified exclusive representative, more than 90 days have elapsed since negotiations began, the Board must appoint a mediator if so requested by the public employer or the exclusive bargaining representative. The mediator shall be chosen from a list of qualified persons maintained by the Board, or upon agreement of the parties, from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, and shall be representative of the public.
(c) If the labor dispute has not been settled after a reasonable period of mediation, during which both parties have made a good faith effort to settle their differences, the parties jointly or individually may petition the Board in writing to initiate binding interest arbitration. In lieu of a petition, the mediator may inform the Board that further negotiations between the parties, at that time, are unlikely to be productive and recommend that binding interest arbitration be initiated. The public employer and the exclusive bargaining representative may initiate binding interest arbitration at any time, by mutual agreement.
(d) Any costs involved in retaining a mediator to assist the parties in reaching a negotiated agreement shall be paid by the Board.
§ 1615 Binding interest arbitration.
(a) Within 7 working days of receipt of a petition or recommendation to initiate binding interest arbitration, the Board shall make a determination, with or without a formal hearing, as to whether a good faith effort has been made by both parties to resolve their labor dispute through negotiations and mediation and as to whether the initiation of binding interest arbitration would be appropriate and in the public interest, except that any discretionary subject shall not be subject to binding interest arbitration.
(b) Pursuant to § 4006(f) of Title 14, the Board shall appoint the Executive Director or his/her designee to act as binding interest arbitrator. Such delegation shall not limit a party's right to appeal to the Board.
(c) The binding interest arbitrator shall hold hearings in order to define the area or areas of dispute, to determine facts relating to the dispute, and to render a decision on unresolved contract issues. The hearings shall be held at times, dates and places to be established by the binding interest arbitrator in accordance with rules promulgated by the Board. The binding interest arbitrator shall be empowered to administer oaths and issue subpoenas on behalf of the parties to the dispute or on the binding interest arbitrator's own behalf.
(d) The binding interest arbitrator shall make written findings of facts and a decision for the resolution of the dispute; provided however, that the decision shall be limited to a determination of which of the parties' last, best, final offers shall be accepted in its entirety. In arriving at a determination, the binding interest arbitrator shall specify the basis for the binding interest arbitrator's findings, taking into consideration, in addition to any other relevant factors, the following:
(1) The interests and welfare of the public.
(2) Comparison of the wages, salaries, benefits, hours and conditions of employment of the employees involved in the binding interest arbitration proceedings with the wages, salaries, benefits, hours and conditions of employment of other employees performing the same or similar services or requiring similar skills under similar working conditions in the same community and in comparable communities and with other employees generally in the same community and in comparable communities.
(3) The overall compensation presently received by the employees inclusive of direct wages, salary, vacations, holidays, excused leaves, insurance and pensions, medical and hospitalization benefits, the continuity and stability of employment, and all other benefits received.
(4) Stipulations of the parties.
(5) The lawful authority of the public employer.
(6) The financial ability of the public employer, based on existing revenues, to meet the costs of any proposed settlements; provided that any enhancement to such financial ability derived from savings experienced by such public employer as a result of a strike shall not be considered by the binding interest arbitrator.
(7) Such other factors not confined to the foregoing which are normally or traditionally taken into consideration in the determination of wages, hours and conditions of employment through voluntary collective bargaining, mediation, binding interest arbitration or otherwise between parties, in the public service or in private employment.
In making determinations, the binding interest arbitrator shall give due weight to each relevant factor. All of the above factors shall be presumed relevant. If any factor is found not to be relevant, the binding interest arbitrator shall detail in the binding interest arbitrator's findings the specific reason why that factor is not judged relevant in arriving at the binding interest arbitrator's determination. With the exception of paragraph (d)(6) of this section, no single factor in this subsection shall be dispositive.
(e) Within 30 days after the conclusion of the hearings but not later than 120 days from the day of appointment, the binding interest arbitrator shall serve the binding interest arbitrator's written determination for resolution of the dispute on the public employer, the certified exclusive representative and the Board. The decision of the binding interest arbitrator shall become an order of the Board within 5 business days after it has been served on the parties.
(f) The cost of binding interest arbitration shall be borne equally by the parties involved in the dispute.
(g) Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to prohibit or otherwise impede a public employer and certified exclusive representative from continuing to bargain in good faith over terms and conditions of employment or from using the services of a mediator at any time during the conduct of collective bargaining. If at any point in the impasse proceedings invoked under this chapter, the parties are able to conclude their labor dispute with a voluntarily reached agreement, the Board shall be so notified, and all impasse resolution proceedings shall be forthwith terminated.
§ 1616 Strikes prohibited.
(a) No public employee shall strike while in the performance of the public employee's official duties.
(b) No public employee shall be entitled to any daily pay, wages, reimbursement of expenses, benefits or any consideration in lieu thereof, for the days on which the public employee engaged in a strike.
(c) Where a public employee has lost entitlement to any daily pay or other consideration pursuant to subsection (b) of this section, any agreement between such public employee or employee organization bargaining on the public employee's behalf and a public employer which provided for the direct or indirect restoration of such entitlement shall be void as against public policy.
§ 1617 Injunctions.
(a) Chancery Court is vested with the authority to hear and determine all actions alleging violation of § 1616 of this title. Suits to enjoin violations of § 1616 of this title will have priority over all matters on the Court's docket except other emergency matters.
(b) Where it appears that any public employee, group of employees, employee organizations or any officer or agent thereof, threaten or are about to do, or are doing, any act in violation of § 1616 of this title, the public employer may forthwith apply to the Court of Chancery for an injunction against such violation.
(c) If an order of the Court enjoining or restraining a violation of § 1616 of this title does not receive immediate compliance, the public employer shall apply to the Court for appropriate contempt sanctions against any party in violation of such order. Upon a proper showing that any person or organization has failed to comply with such an order, the Court shall, in addition to any other remedy it deems appropriate, fine such violating party an amount on a daily, weekly or monthly basis without limitation as determined by the Court.
(d) In determining an appropriate amount for fines imposed pursuant to subsection (c) of this section, the Court shall consider and receive evidence of:
(1) The extent and value of services lost due to the violation of § 1616 of this title.
(2) Any unfair labor practices committed by either party during the collective bargaining process.
(3) The extent of the wilful defiance or resistance to the Court's order.
(4) The impact of the strike on the health, safety and welfare of the public.
§ 1618 Status of existing exclusive representative.
An employee organization that has been certified as the exclusive representative of a bargaining unit deemed to be appropriate prior to the effective date of this chapter shall so continue without the requirement of an election and certification until such time as a question concerning representation is appropriately raised under this chapter in accordance with § 1611(b) of this title, or until the Board would find the unit not to be appropriate in accordance with § 1610(f) of this title.