Which Persons Can Be Excluded from Collective Bargaining Process With Their Government Employer ?
In Chiles v. State Employees Attorneys Guild, 734 So.2d 1030, 1033 (Fla. 1999), the court addressed the constitutionality of section 447.203(3)(j), Florida Statutes (1997), which prohibited " 'those persons who by virtue of their positions of employment are regulated by the Florida Supreme Court' from engaging in collective bargaining with their government employer." 734 So.2d at 1031.
This section was enacted as an exception to the definition of "public employee" in section 447.203(3).
In support of maintaining this statutory exception, the State asserted the following as a compelling state interest:
This action by the Legislature should respond to the arguments recently presented to the Florida Supreme Court in which the parties questioned whether the exclusion of an exemption from collective bargaining for government lawyers was evidence of the Legislature's intent to either waive or consent to "any conflicts with or alterations of the traditional attorney-client relationship" between governmental bodies and their lawyers.
The Legislature is constitutionally empowered to provide the standards and guidelines for implementing the collective bargaining rights of public employees as provided in article I, section 6, Florida Constitution.
Therefore, the Legislature has the authority to determine that the State has a compelling interest in excluding certain persons, including government lawyers, from the collective bargaining process in the same manner in which it has excluded other persons who have managerial, confidential or otherwise unique employment relationships with the State.
By excluding government lawyers from collective bargaining, the Legislature has determined that a necessity exists whereby government attorneys give complete confidentiality, fidelity and loyalty to a governmental body while conducting its legal affairs.
This necessity aligns the attorney with the governmental body and acknowledges the mutual trust, exchanges of confidence, reliance on judgment and personal nature of the attorney-client relationship that would not exist if the attorney were able to continuously sue his or her client/employer to enforce the terms of a collective bargaining agreement. Id. 734 So.2d at 1032 (quoting Fla. H.R. Comm. on Empl. & Mgmt. Rel., HB 2281 (1994) Staff Analysis 3 (final April 11, 1994) (on file with comm.)).