ROUND ROCK, TX – A Texas Supreme Court ruling says police officers, firefighters and teachers do not have a right to union representation at disciplinary meetings.
The ruling came in the case of Round Rock v. Rodriguez, in which a firefighter was ordered not to discuss a disciplinary meeting with his union.
The Supreme Court, in a 6-3 ruling authored by Justice Paul W. Green, stated the Texas Legislature has not granted that right under Section 101.001 of the Texas Labor Code.
“We are pleased with the Supreme Court decision, which answered an important question regarding the ability of public-sector supervisors to carry out their day-to-day responsibilities,” City Manager Steve Norwood said. “While the incident that spawned the case was resolved nearly four years ago, the issue of public employees in Texas having the right to request union representation in any meeting they believe ‘may’ result in discipline was not settled until today’s decision.”
In July 2008, then-Round Rock Fire Chief Larry Hodge called Firefighter Jaime Rodriguez into his office to discuss whether Rodriguez misused sick leave earlier that month to get a physical examination to pursue employment elsewhere. Rodriguez requested union representation at the meeting, which Hodge denied.
At a subsequent meeting, Rodriguez agreed to a five-day suspension. Three months later, Rodriguez and the Round Rock Association of Professional Firefighters filed suit alleging Hodge and the City of Round Rock violated Rodriguez’s right to union representation.
Hodge subsequently retired from the City in 2011, and Rodriquez remains with the Fire Department, holding the rank of driver.
The AFL-CIO says the ruling respects neither workplace rights nor common concepts of justice and fairness.