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Cypen & Cypen
FEBRUARY 4, 2003

Stephen H. Cypen, Esq., Editor

Never Forget - September 11, 2001


In a four to three decision the Florida Supreme Court has determined that deputy sheriffs, like all other employees, are entitled to collective bargaining rights under express provisions of the Florida Constitution. The Court reviewed a decision of the Fifth District Court of Appeal, which certified the following question to be of great public importance: “Are deputy sheriffs categorically excluded from having collective bargaining rights under Chapter 447?” In a key move, strenuously objected to by the three dissenters, the Court rephrased the certified question as follows: “Are deputy sheriffs categorically excluded from having collective bargaining rights under the Florida Constitution?” Receding from its decision to the contrary twenty five years earlier, the Court gave Article I, Section 6, of the Florida Constitution its plain meaning: “The right of persons to work shall not be denied or abridged on account of membership or non-membership in any labor union or labor organization. The right of employees, by and through a labor organization, to bargain collectively shall not be denied or abridged. Public employees shall not have the right to strike.” The Court found no legislative history or compelling state interest sufficient to deprive deputy sheriffs of the right to collective bargaining. The three dissenters complained that the majority, by rephrasing the certified question from one pertaining to Chapter 447 to one interpreting the Florida Constitution, completely changed the nature of the case. The district court below made its decision pursuant to an interpretation of Chapter 447 and did not address the issue from a constitutional perspective. Even the case receded from was based primarily on the Court’s prior interpretation of Chapter 447, not Article I, Section 6 of the Florida Constitution. Nevertheless, now deputy sheriffs in Florida have the same right to collective bargaining as all other employees -- public and private. Coastal Florida Police Benevolent Association, Inc. v. Williams, 28 Fla. L. Weekly S91 (Fla., January 30, 2003).


Russell Bjorkman, a former member of the Florida Investment Advisory Council, has joined Intech, a large-cap equity money manager. Bjorkman recently stepped down as a member of the Council, which reviewed investment performance and procedures for the Florida State Board of Administration, investment arm of the Florida Retirement System. Bjorkman will serve as a product specialist for the firm, and will meet with clients to help analyze their portfolios. Previously, Bjorkman served as a Trustee of the Miami Fire Fighters’ Relief and Pension Fund and as Chair of the City of Miami Fire Fighters’ and Police Officers’ Retirement Trust -- both regular Cypen & Cypen clients.

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Items in this Newsletter may be excerpts or summaries of original or secondary source material, and may have been reorganized for clarity and brevity. This Newsletter is general in nature and is not intended to provide specific legal or other advice.

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