Town of Ridgefield and Ridgefield Police Union, Local 1235, Council 15, AFSCME, AFL-CIO
The duty to negotiate in good faith includes an obligation to participate actively in an attempt to reach a basis for agreement, pursuant to West Hartford Education Association v. DeCourcy, a 1972 decision of the Connecticut Supreme Court. In February 2009, the Town of Ridgefield and the police union began negotiations for a collective bargaining contract. On February 6, the municipality and the police union reached a tentative agreement, and the municipality indicated it would bring the ordinance to a vote at a town meeting. Sergeant Michael Gates wrote, "Pursuant to the tentative agreement we have reached on 2/6/09, which terms are listed below, the Ridgefield Police Union, Local 1235, Council 15 voted in favor of accepting the terms of the tentative agreement on 2/8/09. . . . Implementation of a road ordinance requiring the hiring of police officers." The board of selectmen voted, 4-1, to approve the proposed contract, which covered 24 municipal roads. Attorney Elizabeth Maurer moved to amend the proposal, to extend the contract to 55 municipal roads. At a special town meeting, Attorney Maurer's motion to amend was rejected, references to state roads were deleted, and the ordinance was rejected, 71-11. The union apparently claimed that the Board of Police Commissioners possessed control over local traffic and that the municipality negotiated in bad faith and misrepresented the board of selectmen's authority to propose the traffic ordinance. "Based on the evidence," wrote the Board of Labor Relations, "the parties entered into a tentative agreement in which the Town agreed to submit a road ordinance to a vote at a Town Meeting, but never reached any mutual understanding or agreement on the specific content or terms of the road ordinance, including its scope." Even assuming that the first selectman misrepresented the Board of Selectmen's authority, added the Board of Labor Relations, the record failed to prove that the first selectman acted in bad faith. The union failed to prove that the Town of Ridgefield did not act in good faith, when it negotiated the collective bargaining contract, and the Board of Labor Relations dismissed the police union's complaint.