SAN FRANCISCO LABOR COUNCIL v. UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA

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Court of Appeal, First District, Division 1, California.

SAN FRANCISCO LABOR COUNCIL et al., Plaintiffs and Appellants, v. UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA et al., Defendants and Respondents.

Civ. 41756.

Decided: July 27, 1978

Van Bourg, Allen, Weinberg & Roger, San Francisco, for plaintiffs and appellants. Donald L. Reidhaar, Milton H. Gordon, Glenn R. Woods, Berkeley, for defendants and respondents.

Section 92611 of the Education Code (formerly s 23562)1 requires that the Regents of the University of California (hereafter Regents) consider local general prevailing rates of wages for laborers, workmen and mechanics employed on an hourly or per diem basis in fixing minimum salary limits for its comparable employees. Appellants2 sought mandamus compelling the Regents to comply with the statutory requirements in establishing minimum salary limits required to be paid to the representative class. At the hearing on the Regents' general demurrer, it was stipulated that the only issue to be determined was the constitutionality of the statute. The trial court sustained the demurrer without leave to amend, finding the statute unconstitutional “by reason of Article IX, Section 9, of the State Constitution.” Following entry of a judgment of dismissal, this appeal ensued.

The sole issue thus presented is whether section 92611, reproduced in the margin,3 is in fatal conflict with article IX, section 9, of the California Constitution.4

I. In enacting this new section of the Education Code, the Legislature found and declared that the “salary of state employees . . . ( in the subject job classifications) is a matter of statewide concern” with the intent thereby “to establish a comprehensive statewide scheme applicable to all . . . (such) state employees . . .” analogous in principle to the provisions of Government Code section 18853 requiring a minimum prevailing wage rate standard for the same hourly and daily job classifications of state employees under the jurisdiction of the State Personnel Board. (S.B.No.394, s 3; fn. 1, ante.)

Relying principally upon the holding in Tolman v. Underhill (1952) 39 Cal.2d 708, 249 P.2d 280, appellants contend that as a law enacted under the general police power of the Legislature pertaining to a matter of statewide concern, the regulation of minimum salaries paid to University-employed laborers, workmen, and mechanics is constitutionally permissible and does not intrude upon the “full powers of organization and government” exclusively reserved to the Regents (Cal.Const., art. IX, s 9, subd. (a)) nor improperly interfere “in the administration of its (University's) affairs” (art. IX, s 9, subd. (f)).

Regents flatly refute that contention arguing that section 92611 constitutes neither a valid exercise of the police powers nor an enactment of general statewide concern; therefore, section 92611 unconstitutionally encroaches upon the exclusive regental authority to govern the University, which includes the power to independently establish wage rates of its employees. Our analysis reveals no infirmity in the statute nor any irreconcilable conflict with the relevant constitutional provisions; accordingly, a general demurrer grounded solely on such theory cannot stand.

II. It is well established that legislative enactments are presumed to be valid, and claims of constitutional invalidity must be clearly manifested in order to overcome that underlying presumption. (See State Board of Education v. Levit (1959) 52 Cal.2d 441, 452, 343 P.2d 8; Johnson v. Superior Court (1958) 50 Cal.2d 693, 696, 329 P.2d 5; 5 Witkin, Summary of Cal.Law, Constitutional Law, s 43, p. 3281; see generally 13 Cal.Jur.3d, Constitutional Law, s 72, pp. 135-136.) It is likewise well recognized that legislation promulgated for the purpose of promoting the public interest and general welfare constitutes a valid exercise of the police power which, in the absence of arbitrariness or lack of any rational relationship to its objective, will be upheld. (See Clemons v. Los Angeles (1950) 36 Cal.2d 95, 222 P.2d 439; Sandstrom v. Cal. Horse Racing Board (1948) 31 Cal.2d 401, 189 P.2d 17; Lees v. Bay Area Air etc. Control Dist. (1965) 238 Cal.App.2d 850, 48 Cal.Rptr. 295.) It is also settled law that regulation in a field of labor relations is within the exclusive province of the Legislature whose determination, if reasonable, may not be questioned. (Bautista v. Jones (1944) 25 Cal.2d 746, 749, 155 P.2d 343; In re Mark (1936) 6 Cal.2d 516, 521, 58 P.2d 913; Max Factor & Co. v. Kunsman (1936) 5 Cal.2d 446, 459-460, 55 P.2d 177 (aff'd. 299 U.S. 198, 57 S.Ct. 147, 81 L.Ed. 122); see also Professional Fire Fighters, Inc. v. City of Los Angeles (1963) 60 Cal.2d 276, 293-295, 32 Cal.Rptr. 830, 384 P.2d 158; San Leandro Police Officers Assn. v. City of San Leandro (1976) 55 Cal.App.3d 553, 127 Cal.Rptr. 856.)

Within the realm of activities concerning academic and student affairs and internal organizational matters, the Regents possess sole and exclusive rule-making powers governing the University. (Hamilton v. Regents of the Univ. of Calif. (1934) 219 Cal. 663, 28 P.2d 355 (aff'd. 293 U.S. 245, 55 S.Ct. 197, 79 L.Ed. 343) (prescribe academic course content and student requirements); Amluxen v. Regents of University of California (1975) 53 Cal.App.3d 27, 125 Cal.Rptr. 497 (promulgate staff personnel policy); Cal. State Employees' Assn. v. Regents of University of California (1968) 267 Cal.App.2d 667, 73 Cal.Rptr. 449 (establish payroll deduction policy); Ishimatsu v. Regents of the University of California (1968) 266 Cal.App.2d 854, 72 Cal.Rptr. 756 (adjudicate personnel grievances); Goldberg v. Regents of the University of California (1967) 248 Cal.App.2d 867, 57 Cal.Rptr. 463 (maintain campus order); Wall v. Board of Regents, U. C. (1940) 38 Cal.App.2d 698, 102 P.2d 533 (determine qualifications of academic instructors).) But in areas concerning a subject matter of statewide concern, the Legislature has plenary power to adopt general laws promoting the public welfare which are binding upon the Regents.5 (Tolman v. Underhill, supra, 39 Cal.2d 708, 249 P.2d 280; see also Regents of University of California v. Superior Court (1976) 17 Cal.3d 533, 536, 131 Cal.Rptr. 228, 551 P.2d 844; City Street Imp. Co. v. Regents (1908) 153 Cal. 776, 96 P. 801; Estate of Royer (1899) 123 Cal. 614, 624, 56 P. 461; Wallace v. Regents of the University of California (1925) 75 Cal.App. 274, 242 P. 892.)

In its benchmark decision in Tolman v. Underhill, supra, 39 Cal.2d 708, 249 P.2d 280, the California Supreme Court squarely confronted the issue of legislative supremacy in matters of statewide concern over conflicting University regulations. In invalidating a Regent-imposed loyalty oath requirement for University employees under general laws requiring a similar oath by All state employees, the court concluded that academic fealty was not “merely a matter involving the internal affairs of that (University) institution but is a subject of general statewide concern” (at p. 712, 249 P.2d at p. 282) which the Legislature intended to fully occupy through its enactments to the exclusion of local regulation. (Id. at p. 713, 249 P.2d 280; see also Fraser v. Regents of University of California (1952) 39 Cal.2d 717, 249 P.2d 283.) The Tolman court instructs that in determining whether the Legislature has preempted a given field of legislation, “its intent with regard to occupying the field . . . is not to be measured alone by the language used but by the Whole purpose and scope of the legislative scheme. (Citations.)” (Id. 39 Cal.2d at p. 712, 249 P.2d at p. 283; emphasis added.) (See also Galvan v. Superior Court (1969) 70 Cal.2d 851, 859, 76 Cal.Rptr. 642, 452 P.2d 930; In re Lane (1962) 58 Cal.2d 99, 102-103, 22 Cal.Rptr. 857, 372 P.2d 897.)

While the Regents correctly assert that a legislatively declared purpose is not binding upon the courts (see Coulter v. Pool (1921) 187 Cal. 181, 185-186, 201 P. 120), it is equally clear that such purpose in enacting general laws intended to preempt a field is entitled to great weight; and, in certain cases, the factors upon which the Legislature relied in determining the subject matter to be of statewide concern may be of like persuasion to the reviewing court. (See Bishop v. City of San Jose (1969) 1 Cal.3d 56, 63, 81 Cal.Rptr. 465, 460 P.2d 137.) And as a correlative proposition we must, whenever possible, interpret the statutes so as to make them workable and reasonable (City of Santa Clara v. Von Raesfeld (1970) 3 Cal.3d 239, 248, 90 Cal.Rptr. 8, 474 P.2d 976) in attempting to effectuate the purpose of the law (Alford v. Pierno (1972) 27 Cal.App.3d 682, 688, 104 Cal.Rptr. 110). Moreover, fundamental canons of construction require that a statute “be construed with reference to the entire statutory system of which it forms a part in such a way that harmony may be achieved among the parts.” (People ex rel. Younger v. Superior Court (1976) 16 Cal.3d 30, 40, 127 Cal.Rptr. 122, 128, 544 P.2d 1322, 1328.) In enacting section 92611 (as well as s 89517), the Legislature clearly manifested an intent to establish a comprehensive statewide scheme assuring minimum wage parity for all state employed laborers, workmen and mechanics compensated on an hourly or daily basis. (Cf. Gov.Code, s 18853; Lab.Code, s 1720 et seq.) With the singular objective of inclusion of a specific class of University employees within a broad statutory scheme assuring a uniform standard in determining minimum prevailing wage rates payable to the same class of state employees in general, the Legislature in the valid exercise of its general police powers unequivocally expressed its intention to fully occupy that particular field of legislation as a matter of statewide concern.6 In doing so, there was no unconstitutional infringement upon the powers exclusively reserved to the Regents or University. However broad the powers of self-government vested in the Regents under article IX, section 9 (Cal.Const.), in the conduct of the University's internal affairs, they may not be implicitly construed so as to impose a limitation upon the exercise of a sovereign power traditionally within the exclusive domain of the legislative branch of government. (See Professional Fire Fighters, Inc. v. City of Los Angeles, supra, 60 Cal.2d 276, 32 Cal.Rptr. 830, 384 P.2d 158; Bautista v. Jones, supra, 25 Cal.2d 746, 155 P.2d 343.)

Since we conclude that section 92611 is not in fatal conflict with article IX, section 9, its validity must be upheld. The trial court erred in sustaining a general demurrer on such grounds.

In view of our decision, it is unnecessary to reach the remaining issue presented on appeal.

The judgment is reversed and the cause remanded for further proceedings consistent with the views expressed herein.

FOOTNOTES

1.  Education Code section 23562, effective January 1, 1976, was enacted under the provisions of Senate Bill No. 394 signed into law on September 30, 1975. (Stats.1975, ch. 1218, s 1, p. 3080.) During the pendency of this appeal, the section was repealed and reenacted as section 92611 as part of the reorganization of the entire Education Code. (Stats.1976, ch. 1010, s 2, operative April 30, 1977.) Section 24216 (now s 89517), containing similar requirements applicable to the Trustees of the California State University and Colleges, was enacted by the same legislation.

2.  The petition was filed as a representative class action by several bay area trade councils in behalf of their labor organization affiliates representing employees employed by the University at one or more of its facilities located in northern California, together with six individual building trades employees of the University on behalf of all other similarly situated employees.

3.  Section 92611 (formerly s 23562) reads as follows:“The minimum and maximum salary limits for laborers, workmen, and mechanics employed on an hourly or per diem basis need not be uniform throughout the state, but the regents shall ascertain, as to each such position, the general prevailing rate of such wages in the various localities of the state.“In fixing such minimum and maximum salary limits within the various localities of the state, the regents shall take into account the prevailing rates of wages in the localities in which the employee is to work and other relevant factors, and shall not fix the minimum salary limits below the general prevailing rate so ascertained for the various localities.”

4.  The relevant portions of article IX, section 9, provide:“The University of California shall constitute a public trust, to be administered by the existing corporation known as ‘The Regents of the University of California,’ with full powers of organization and government, subject only to such legislative control as may be necessary to insure the security of its funds and compliance with the terms of the endowments of the university and such competitive bidding procedures as may be made applicable to the university by statute for the letting of construction contracts, sales of real property, and purchasing of materials, goods, and services. . . .” (Subd. (a).)“. . . The university shall be entirely independent of all political or sectarian influence and kept free therefrom in the appointment of its regents and in the administration of its affairs . . . .” (Subd. (f).)

5.  We note, for example, that Unemployment Insurance Code section 135.7 specifically designates the Regents of the University of California as an “employing unit” for the purpose of unemployment compensation benefits for state higher education employees; Government Code section 3500 et seq. (Meyers-Milias-Brown Act) applies “meet and confer” requirements to University employees (39 Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen. 182); Labor Code sections 1410-1432 (Fair Employment Practice Act) are applicable to University employees (39 Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen. 244); Government Code section 9411 expressly limits the Regents' employment autonomy where contempt before a legislative committee is involved; Labor Code section 3201 et seq. (workers' compensation laws) is applicable to University employees; and Government Code sections 20008 and 20011 (state employees' retirement system) are generally applicable to University employees.

6.  Cal. State Employees' Assn. v. Regents of University of California (1968) 267 Cal.App.2d 667, 73 Cal.Rptr. 449, and Newmarker v. Regents of Univ. of California (1958) 160 Cal.App.2d 640, 325 P.2d 558, relied upon by Regents, are readily distinguishable. In neither case did the Legislature expressly state, as here, an intent to regulate employees of the University.

RACANELLI, Presiding Justice.

ELKINGTON, J., and LOW,* JJ., concur.