On June 4, 2019, a court in Travis County, Texas ruled that the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the Austin Fire Fighters Association, IAFF Local 975, and the City of Austin does not violate the Texas constitution’s “gift clause.” Two taxpayers from Austin, joined by the Texas Attorney General, filed a lawsuit challenging the association business leave provision of the contract as an unconstitutional gift under Texas Law. The Court’s ruling means that Article 10 of the CBA, which provides for association business leave to be used by Austin’s fire fighters, is not a gratuitous grant of public funds and is constitutional in the eyes of the Court.
Additionally, the Court awarded the AFA $115,250.00 in attorneys’ fees and an additional $75,000 in sanctions against the taxpayer plaintiffs, who are represented by the Texas Public Policy Foundation and the Goldwater Institute. The purpose of the sanctions is to deter these taxpayers from bringing similar legal actions in the future and interfering further with Texans’ constitutional rights to speak and associate freely.
Diana Nobile and John Stewart of McGillivary Steele Elkin LLP represent the Austin Fire Fighters Association in this matter, which is a sound victory in protecting the rights of employees to associate and bargain with their employer for fair wage, benefits, and working conditions.
A news article on this case can be found here: https://www.statesman.com/news/20190605/judge-grants-firefighters-345k-in-frivolous-leave-time-suit
Diana Nobile was lead counsel for the fire fighters and is a partner at McGillivary Steele Elkin.