Employee Relations v. MLRB and MSEA, No. CV-77-135, affirming No. 77-A-02

STATE OF MAINE                                  SUPERIOR COURT
KENNEBEC, SS                                    CIVIL ACTION
                                                Docket No. CV-77-135

RELATIONS,                          )
            Plaintiff               )
v.                                  )              DECISION
and                                 )
            Defendants              )
     In accordance with Rule 8OB, M.R.Civ.P., Plaintiff
seeks review of a Maine Labor Relations Board's (M.L.R.B.)
decision.  Plaintiff challenges the characterization of three
public officials as "state employees" and their subsequent
inclusion in the Supervisory Services bargaining unit,
pursuant to 26 M.R.S.A. 979, et seq.
     When reviewing the findings made by the M.L.R.B. in a
unit determination proceeding, 26 M.R.S.A. 968(4) provides that
Board review of a unit determination "shall be subject to
review by the Superior Court in the manner specified in
section 972."  Section 972, relating by its terms to review of
arbitration decision, provides:
            ...The binding determination of an arbitration
            panel or arbitrator, in the absence of fraud,
            upon all questions of fact shall be final.
            The Court may, after consideration, affirm,
            reverse or modify any such determination or
            decision based upon an erroneous ruling or
            finding of law.  Baker Bus Service, Inc.
            v. Keith, Me., 416 A.2d 727, 729 (1980).


     There being no allegation of fraud, the construction placed
on the statute by the Board, as an agency charged with its
enforcement, should be accorded "considerable deference" by
this Court.  State v. M.L.R.B., Me. 413 A.2d 510, 514 (1980).
The decision of the Board in a unit determination case should
be disturbed "only if arbitrary or unreasonable."  Continental
Insurance Co. v. N.L.R.B., 409 F.2d 727, 728 (2nd Cir.)
cert. denied, 396 U.S. 902 (1969)
     This Court is of the view that the Board's decision was
neither arbitrary nor unreasonable.  The purpose of the
State Employees Labor Relations Act, stated in section 979,
is to provide state employees the right to join labor
organizations and be represented in collective bargaining.
Section 979-A(6) defines "state employee" as "any employee of
the State of Maine... except any person" falling within one
of the stated exclusions.  (Statutory text omitted).  It is
clear from the statutory language that the three public
officials--the Director of Geology, Director of Civil Emergency
Preparedness, and Director of Veteran Services--do not fall within
any of the exceptions.  The statute "must be held to mean what
it declares plainly."  Reggep v. Lunder Shoe Products Co., Me.
241 A.2d 802, 805 (1968).
     Accordingly, the entry will be:

                                  Plaintiff's appeal
                                  is DENIED.
                                  The Decision of the Maine
                                  Labor Relations Board is AFFIRMED.

Dated: October 10, 1980       /s/______________________________
                                  Daniel E. Wathen
                                  Justice, Superior Court