67 Op. Att'y Gen. 276 (1978)
 
67 OAG 276  277

OPINION NO. OAG 83-78,

Wisconsin Attorney General Opinions

28 November 1978

Collective Bargaining, Common Council;
Grievance Procedures, Open Meeting,

Where common council hears a grievance
under a procedure established under a
signed contract, the council is engaged
in collective bargaining within the
meaning of Section 111.70(1)(d), Stats.,
and is therefore, for that purpose,
not a "governmental body" within
the meaning of Section 19.82(1),
Stats., of the open meeting law.

TED FISCHER, City Attorney City of Eau Claire

Pursuant to Section 19.98, Stats., you
request my opinion whether the common council
is "formed for or meeting for the purpose of
collective bargaining under Subchapter IV or
V of Chapter 111," and is therefore not a
"governmental body" within the meaning of
Section 19.82(1), Stats., when it hears a
grievance under the procedure established
under the signed contract, which grievance
involves a dispute as to the change of work
hours of mechanics at the city shops.

The contract provides that when the council
fails to determine the grievance within a
given time or renders an opinion unfavorable
to the union, the matter may be taken before
an arbitrator.

You indicate that the council has taken a
position that the hearing should be open to
the public and that the union has taken the
position that the council is not a
governmental body within the meaning of
Section 19.82(1), Stats., and that the
hearing should be closed unless the employe
or union agrees to have it open.

I am of the opinion, however, that under the
facts stated, the common council is engaged
in collective bargaining when it hears and
decides the type of dispute referred to and
hence is not a "governmental body" when
meeting for that purpose and that most
portions of the open meeting law are not
applicable to that given situation.

Section 19.82(1), Stats., provides:

19.82(1)  "Governmental body" means a state
          or local agency, board, commission,
          committee, council, department or
          public body corporate and politic
          created by constitution, statute,
          ordinance, rule or order;

          a governmental or
          quasi-governmental or a formally
          constitute subunit of any of the
          foregoing, but excludes any such
          body or committee or subunit of
          such body which is formed for or
          meeting for the  purpose of
          collective bargaining under
          Subchapter IV or V of
          Chapter 111.

 
67 OAG 276  277

Since the above section specifically refers
to "collective bargaining under Subchapter IV
or V of Chapter 111," Stats., the definition
in Section 111.70(1)(d), Stats., is
applicable and provides in material part:

111.70(1)(d)   "Collective bargaining" means
               the performance of the mutual
               obligation of a municipal
               employer, through its officers
               and agents, and the
               representatives of its
               employes, to meet and confer
               at reasonable times, in good
               faith, with respect to wages,
               hours and conditions of
               employment with the intention
               of reaching an agreement, or
               to resolve questions arising
               under such an agreement.

The statute contemplates that collective
bargaining does not terminate when a contract
is reduced to writing and is signed but may
be utilized to resolve questions arising
under the agreement, even where the procedure
to resolve such questions is, at least in
part, controlled by the agreement.

The advice herein given does not express an
opinion whether the hearings should be open
or closed, but only that the treatment of
grievances under a collective bargaining
agreement constitutes collective bargaining
which is exempt from the open meeting law.

BCL:RJV
 
 
67 OAG 276  277