TRI-COUNTY METROPOLITAN TRANSPORTATION DISTRICT OF OREGON (TriMet), a municipal corporation of the State of Oregon, Petitioner on Review,
AMALGAMATED TRANSIT UNION LOCAL 757, a labor organization, Respondent on Review.
and submitted June 14, 2017.
review from the Court of Appeals.[*] CC C121215684; CA A154561
M. Garza, Law Offce of Keith M. Garza, Oak Grove, argued the
cause and fled the briefs for the petitioner on review. Also
on the briefs was Erik Van Hagen, Portland.
A. Masih, Bennett Hartman Morris & Kaplan LLP, Portland,
argued the cause and fled the brief for the respondent on
review. Also on the brief was Gregory A. Hartman, Portland.
A. Lyon, Fisher & Phillips LLP, Portland, filed the brief
for amicus curiae Oregon Public Employer Labor Relations
Jeffrey P. Chicoine, Miller Nash Graham & Dunn LLP,
Portland, filed the brief for amicus curiae Oregon School
Boards Association. Also on the brief was Jollee F.
Jacquilyn Saito-Moore, Washington County Counsel, Hillsboro,
filed the brief for amici curiae Association of Oregon
Counties and League of Oregon Cities. Also on the brief was
Kimberly A. Stuart, Hillsboro.
Or. 485] Before Balmer, Chief Justice, and Kistler, Walters,
Nakamoto, Flynn, Duncan, and Nelson, Justices. [**]
Summary: Plaintiff TriMet sought declaratory judgment that
anticipated collective bargaining negotiation sessions would
not be subject to the provisions of the Oregon Public
Meetings Law. TriMet contended that, because its negotiating
team, which it considered to be a "governing body"
under the Public Meeting Law for purposes of summary
judgment, had no quorum requirement, the anticipated
bargaining sessions could not be "meetings" as that
term is defined in the Public Meeting Law. Held:
"Quorum" is a concept that applies to any organized
body, and while the number of people that constitute a quorum
could present a question of fact, the existence of a quorum
is not a question of fact. It is possible for a quorum of a
governing body to "meet in private" in violation of
ORS 192.630(2) even if there is no "meeting"
subject to ORS 192.630(1). TriMet did not establish, for
purposes of summary judgment, that the proposed negotiating
sessions will not be subject to the Public Meetings Law.
Or. 486] FLYNN, J.
Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District (TriMet),
brought this action for declaratory relief, seeking a
declaration that planned, future collective bargaining
sessions between TriMet's bargaining team and the
bargaining team for defendant Amalgamated Transit Union Local
757 (ATU) will not be "meetings" subject to the
open meetings requirements of Oregon's Public Meetings
Law, ORS 192.610 to ORS 192.695. ATU opposed the declaration,
and the parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment. The
trial court agreed with TriMet and granted its motion, but
the Court of Appeals vacated and remanded. TriMet v.
Amalgamated Transit Union Local 757, 276 Or.App. 513,
368 P.3d 50 (2016). The Court of Appeals reasoned that, even
if the bargaining sessions are not "meetings" as
that term is defined in the Public Meetings Law, ORS
192.610(5), when the TriMet team participates in the
sessions, it may be subject to the prohibition in ORS
192.630(2) that, generally:
"A quorum of a governing body may not meet in private
for the purpose of deciding on or deliberating toward a
decision on any matter[.]"
court allowed review to consider whether the Court of Appeals
correctly construed ORS 192.630(2). We conclude that the
Court of Appeals' construction of that statute is
correct-that it is possible for a "quorum of a governing
body" to "meet" in violation of ORS 192.630(2)
even if there is no "meeting" subject to ORS
192.630(1). We also conclude that TriMet failed to establish,
on this summary judgment record, that no "quorum"
of the TriMet team will "meet" during the
negotiations; thus, TriMet failed to establish as a matter of
law that the bargaining sessions at issue will not be subject
to ORS 192.630(2). Finally, we consider, but reject,
ATU's proposal that another provision [362 Or. 487] of
the Public Meetings Law, ORS 192.660(3), requires that all
bargaining sessions of a public body be conducted in an
"open meeting" unless both parties consent to
private meetings. Accordingly, we affirm the decision of the
Court of Appeals and reverse and remand the judgment of the
is a mass transit district and municipal corporation that
operates in the Portland metropolitan area. ORS 267.010 -
267.430. As a public employer, TriMet is required by the
Public Employer Collective Bargaining Act (PECBA) to engage
in collective bargaining with the exclusive representative of
a bargaining unit of its employees, here ATU. In 2012,
shortly before their collective bargaining agreement was set
to expire, ATU notified TriMet that it wished to open
negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement.
TriMet's general manager had designated TriMet's
Executive Director of Labor Relations and Human Resources,
Stedman, to lead its negotiating team. Stedman, in turn, had
chosen seven other TriMet executives to be members of the
the parties agreed to conduct three bargaining sessions, ATU
advised TriMet that it expected the bargaining sessions to be
open to the public pursuant the terms of the Public Meetings
Law. TriMet did not agree that the Public Meetings Law would
apply to the negotiating sessions and did not consent to
holding open negotiating sessions. The parties were unable to
resolve their dispute regarding the correct interpretation of
the Public Meetings Law, and TriMet brought this action in
the circuit court. TriMet sought a declaration "that
collective bargaining sessions between TriMet's
negotiating team and ATU are not subject to ORS 192.610
et seq., governing public meetings" as well as
a declaration that, "because collective bargaining
sessions between ATU and TriMet's negotiating team are
not public meetings, any actions taken in those meetings are
not subject to challenge under ORS 192.680." As noted,
both parties moved for summary judgment, and the trial court
granted TriMet's motion.
Or. 488] B. Overview of the Public Meetings Law
describing the rulings of the lower courts, we briefly
describe the key provisions of the Public Meetings Law that
are at the heart of the parties' dispute. The Public
Meetings Law regulates the decision-making process of
"governing bod[ies]" and "public
bod[ies]." For purposes of TriMet's motion for
summary judgment, TriMet assumed that its designated
negotiating team would function in a way that makes it a
"governing body" within the meaning of the Public
Meetings Law, meaning that the team "consists of two or
more members, with authority to make decisions for or
recommendations to a public body on policy or
administration." ORS 192.610(3).
pertinent to the parties' dispute, the Public Meetings
Law requires that most "meetings" of a governing
body "shall be open to the public." ORS 192.630(1).
A "meeting" is "a convening of a governing
body of a public body for which a quorum is required in order
to make a decision or to deliberate toward a decision on any
matter, " (except for limited situations that are not
pertinent here). ORS 192.610(5). In addition, the Public
Meetings Law specifies that a "quorum of a governing
body may not meet in private for the purpose of deciding on
or deliberating toward a decision on any matter, " also
subject to certain exceptions that are not pertinent here.
Lower Court Rulings
support of its motion for summary judgment, TriMet submitted
an affidavit from Stedman asserting that there would be
"no minimum number of the bargaining team that must be
present before the bargaining team can engage in negotiations
or take any action." According to TriMet, the affidavit
establishes that TriMet's bargaining team would have no
"quorum" requirement and, thus, that the team's
bargaining sessions could not be "meetings" for
purposes of the public meetings law, given the definition of
"meeting" found in ORS 192.610(5).
response, ATU raised a limited challenge to TriMet's
contention that there is no quorum required for the proposed
negotiating sessions between the ATU and [362 Or. 489] TriMet
teams. Specifically, ATU argued that the ATU and TriMet
negotiating teams, when combined, constitute a single group
that is a "governing body, " which has a quorum
requirement because at least one person from each team must
be present to conduct negotiations. Thus, according to ATU,
the combined bargaining sessions fit the definition of a
"meeting." ATU also argued that it was entitled to
summary judgment in its favor based on another provision of
the Public Meetings Law, ORS 192.660(3). That provision
specifies that "[l]abor negotiations shall be conducted
in open meetings unless negotiators for both sides request
that negotiations be conducted in executive session."
Id. The trial court granted TriMet's motion for
summary judgment and denied ATU's motion. It entered a
judgment declaring that "[c]ollective bargaining
sessions between TriMet's negotiating team and the ATU
bargaining team are not 'meetings' subject to ORS
192.610 et seq. governing public meetings."
appealed, and the parties reprised the arguments they had
made in the trial court. The Court of Appeals reversed. As an
initial matter, the Court of Appeals rejected ATU's
argument that ORS 192.660(3) entitles ATU to judgment as a
matter of law that TriMet is required to conduct collective
bargaining sessions in "the context of open
meetings." TriMet, 276 Or.App. at 523. The
court also rejected ATU's argument that the bargaining
sessions constitute a "meeting" because the
negotiating teams, together, constitute a single
"governing body" with a quorum requirement.
Id. at 524.
the court assumed that Stedman's affidavit established
that the negotiating sessions would not qualify as a
"meeting, " because TriMet had not required a
quorum for its team. The court, nonetheless, concluded that
the trial court erred in granting TriMet's motion for
summary judgment because it concluded that ORS 192.630(2)
remains a potential obstacle to private bargaining sessions
even if the sessions are not "meetings, " as that
term is defined for purposes of the Public Meetings Law. In
reaching that conclusion, the Court of Appeals relied on its
decision in Handy v. Lane County. 274 Or.App. 644,
362 P.3d 867 (2015), aff'd in part on other
grounds. 360 Or. 605, 395 P.3d 1016 (2016), [362 Or.
490] which that court issued while the appeal in this case
was pending. In its opinion in this case, the Court of
"Handy clarifies that the Public Meetings Law
applies not only to formal 'meetings' of governing
bodies (that is, formal 'convening[s] *** for which a
quorum is required in order to make a decision or to
deliberate toward a decision on any matter[, ] ORS
192.610(5)), but also to circumstances in which a quorum of a
governing body 'meets' to deliberate toward or make a
decision outside the context of a 'meeting.'"
TriMet, 276 Or. at 525 (quoting Handy, 274
Or.App. at 657 (brackets and ellipsis in TriMet)).
The court reasoned that, regardless of whether TriMet
requires a quorum for its negotiating team to convene a
bargaining session, the negotiating team has a
"A quorum is simply 'the number of the members of an
organized body of persons *** that when duly assembled is
legally competent to transact business in the absence of the
other members: a usu. specified number of members (as an
absolute majority) in the absence of which an organized body
cannot act legally * * *.' We ...