Missouri Court of Appeals Upholds Evergreen Clause in Monarch Firefighters’ Contract

The Monarch Fire Protection District Must Honor Terms of Existing Collective Bargaining Agreement as New Contract Negotiations Continue with Firefighters

July 27, 2016, St. Louis, Missouri…Monarch Firefighters and Paramedics, who are members of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Local 2665 serving St. Louis County, prevailed in an appellate case brought against them by the Monarch Fire Protection District.

On July 26, the Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District, ruled against the case brought by the fire protection district in November 2015. The district filed for appeal after the St. Louis Circuit Court granted a Motion of Summary Judgement requiring the fire protection district to honor terms of its existing collective bargaining agreement with Local 2665 as negotiations continued with the firefighters/paramedics to establish acceptable terms of a new agreement.

The Missouri Court of Appeals ruling means that Monarch firefighter/paramedics in the district can continue working under their old contract while negotiating a new one.

The district argued five points in its appellate case against the firefighters. The Missouri Court of Appeals disagreed with all five, noting “The district’s case might best be understood as a house of cards,” concluding “the district has built its argument on a faulty base.” The Missouri Court of Appeals ruling was rendered by Judges Lawrence E. Mooney, William M. Clayton, III and James M. Dowd.

Brent Coleman, Captain at the Monarch Fire Protection District and Local 2665 Shop Steward, said, “Monarch firefighters and paramedics hope the Missouri Court of Appeals ruling resolves this issue once and for all. We hope it ends the Monarch Fire Protection District‘s expenditures of time and taxpayers’ money in this matter so that we can negotiate terms of a new agreement in a timely, cooperative way.”

In late 2013, the district initiated action against Local 2665 in an effort to modify terms of the collective bargaining agreement that was due to expire on December 31, 2013, and negotiations for a new agreement would begin, but the agreement’s “evergreen’ clause” — Section 5.02 — prevented the district from modifying any terms. The district wanted to modify aspects of the agreement concerning firefighter/paramedic work hours, paid vacations, sick leave and related matters.

So-called “evergreen clauses” in collective bargaining agreements ensure that the current agreement will remain in full force and effect during negotiations for a new agreement.

IAFF Local 2665 filed a request with the St. Louis Circuit Court for Motion of Summary Judgement in the matter in August 2015. St. Louis Circuit Court Judge Joseph L. Walsh granted the motion, requiring the fire protection district to honor its existing collective bargaining agreement with Local 2665 as negotiations continued to establish a new agreement.

The Monarch Fire Protection District then filed its appellate case. The Missouri Court of Appeals ruling on July 26, 2016, can be seen here: http://www.courts.mo.gov/file.jsp?id=104018.

Brent Coleman can be reached by email at wbcoleman76@gmail.com.

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