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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Amalgamated Transit Union Local No. 1338 (ATU) sued Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) for alleged violations of a general grievance resolution by failing to implement a bargained-for pay increase and by taking other unilateral actions inconsistent with the resolution. DART filed a plea to the jurisdiction, based on governmental immunity. ATU countered that state governmental immunity law was pre-empted by federal law, the Urban Mass Transportation Act (UMTA). The trial court denied DART’s plea. HOLDING:Affirmed. The court notes that according to Jackson Transit Authority v. Local Division 1285, Amalgamated Transit Union, 457 U.S. 15 (1982), the UMTA was designed in part “to provide federal aid for local governments in acquiring failing private transit companies so that communities could continue to receive the benefits of mass transportation despite the collapse of the private operations.” The court further notes that Jackson Transit indicated that Congress was concerned that state law could forbid collective bargaining by state and local government employees, thus depriving employees of the collective-bargaining rights they had as employees of a private company when acquired by the government. The court confirms that Texas law prohibits collective bargaining by government employees, but the court also notes that DART signed an “Arrangement Pursuant to Section 13(c) of the Urban Mass Transportation Act of 1964″ whereby DART agreed to honor existing employee rights, including rights to present grievances about their wages, hours of work, conditions of work, and more. The court verifies that the arrangement addresses Congress’ concern about destroying bargaining rights the private employees once enjoyed. The court then notes that the court in Jackson Transit found it reasonable to conclude that Congress expected arrangements like the one DART signed to be enforced like ordinary contracts, enforceable through private suits for breach. The court disagrees with DART’s argument that ATU’s suit is not one for breach of the resolution agreement. “Assuming state law provides that DART, as a governmental entity, is immune from suit, this immunity would obstruct accomplishing and executing Congress’s full purposes and objectives under the UMTA. . . . The UMTA, as interpreted in Jackson Transit Authority, is clear: state law is to control labor relations between local governments and unionized transit workers, as long as the workers’ collective-bargaining rights are preserved before a local government receives federal aid. . . . Although section 13(c) may be narrowly drafted to minimize its effects on state labor law, Congress’s clear intent was to preserve collective-bargaining rights. Where state immunity law would preclude enforcement of the rights preserved under section 13(c), Congress’s objectives could not be accomplished.” The court thus agrees with the trial court that the UMTA preempts application of Texas laws on governmental immunity. OPINION:Whittington, J.; Whittington, Francis and Lang, JJ.

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