County To Appeal Verdict To State Supreme Court
A dispute between Marinette County and County Professional Employees Union Local 1752-A, AFSCME AFL-CIO will continue as the result of action taken at a closed meeting of the 12-member Executive Committee of the Marinette County Board of Supervisors.
The Executive Committee met Tuesday, Feb. 25, following the full County Board meeting. The one-half hour meeting began at 11:30 a.m. and ended at 12:04 p.m. Also in attendance were Corporation Counsel Gale Mattison and County Administrator Ellen Sorensen.
Returning to open session, the Executive Committee by unanimous roll call vote approved having Corporation Counsel Gale Mattison again hire the firm of Phillips and Borowski of Mequon not to exceed $15,000. The firm is to petition the Supreme Court to hear the Marinette County appeal from a ruling issued Feb. 11 by the 3rd District Court of Appeals, Wausau. The law firm had represented Marinette County before the Court of Appeals also at a cost not to exceed $15,000.
Both the Court of Appeals and Marinette County Circuit Court Judge David Miron previously ruled in favor of the union and against the County regarding interpretation of extension for one year of the Jan. 1, 2009 through Dec. 31, 2011 contract.
The case began in July 2011 when the union claimed the existing contract automatically extended it for an additional year since neither party had given prior notice to June 1, 2011 as contained in the contract.
Marinette County rejected the unions claim and the union filed a grievance and it went to arbitration. The arbitrator ruled in favor of the union explaining failure by the two parties to act by the June 1 and before the June 29, 2011 Act 10 became law extinguishing most collective bargaining privileges for general municipal employees.
Marinette County appealed the arbitrators decision to Marinette County Circuit Court where Judge Miron agreed with the decision of the arbitrator. Marinette County then appealed his verdict to the Court of Appeals.
On Feb. 11, the Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of Judge Miron and admonished the law firm attorneys for attempting to mislead us.
Throughout the case, Marinette County had argued that the arbitrator had exceeded its authority. Both Judge Miron and Court of Appeals did not agree.
In its decision, the Court of Appeals said, they find it patently absurd to argue an arbitrators award could be overturned for failure to consider arguments or authority that were never presented to the arbitrator. It also noted that Marinette County cited no authority for its proposition.
The Appeals Court also noted We remind counsel of their professional obligations to offer meritorious claims and contentions. It also called the Countys argument disingenuous.
Estimate cost of extending the contract an additional year to Dec. 31, 2012 was estimated at $100,000 in retirement benefits. It was not known of other costs.
All members of the Executive Committee were present at the Tuesday, Feb. 25, closed meeting. Members are Board Chairman Vilas Schroeder and supervisors Russ Bauer, Alice Baumgarten, Mike Behnke, Russ Bousley, Ken Casper, Melissa Christiansen, Kathy Just, Ken Keller, Ted Sauve, Connie Seefeldt and Bill Walker.
Other present were Supervisors Gilbert Engel, Paul Gustafson, Bob Holley, Shirley Kaufman, Nick Lakari, Ken Mattison, Joe Policello, Clancy Whiting and Cheryl Wruk.
County Clerk Kathy Brandt took minutes of the meeting.
Only County Board Supervisors, plus Mattison, Sorensen and Brandt were allowed to remain in the County Board room for the closed portion of the meeting. All others were asked to leave.
As the meeting adjourned, Supervisor Ken Keller asked about the time frame for the Supreme Court appeal. That is a very good unanswered question, Mattison told him.
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