State Hearing Officer Dismisses Town's Demand that Rockland Fire Union Produce Employee Records of Outside Work
In both private and public sector labor law, a union, just as management, has an obligation to produce information in its possession or control that is relevant and necessary for collective bargaining. The Department of Labor Relations (DLR) has long held, though, that a Union cannot be faulted for failing to provide information that it neither possesses nor controls. Attorney Patrick Bryant, assisted by Attorney Ian Russell, persuaded a DLR hearing officer that the Rockland Fire Fighters, Local 1602, IAFF did not violate its duty to bargain in good faith when it failed to provide information it did not have -- outside employment and tax records of its members.
Several weeks ago, the Town's attorney and chief labor negotiator insisted that the Fire Union produce a) all outside employment records ; b) on-duty sleep schedules; and c) proof of residency, for every employee of the Fire Department. The Town claimed that the information was pertinent to successor contract negotiations.
The Town never cited a factual or legal basis to assert that the information requested was in the Union's possession or control or how the Union had any legal ability to compel its members to produce that information. Prior to the hearing, the Town dropped the requests for sleep schedules and proof of residency.
The Union forwarded the Town's request to all employees. All employees refused to provide the information.
At the in-person investigation, the Town could not state any additional action that it wanted the Union to take or that the Union could take. The DLR Hearing Officer dismissed the Town's charge, an action that the Town has the right to appeal.