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INTRODUCTION TO COLLECTIVE BARGAINING
The legal structure of collective bargaining is an intricate set of rules and regulationsthat establish who must engage in collective bargaining, when collective bargaining mustoccur, what matters must be negotiated over, and how agreements are enforced once they arereached. In New York, the employment relationship between teachers and local school districtsis governed by a collective bargaining agreement. In New York, the
gives allpublic employees, including teachers and other school personnel, the right to organize andbargain collectively. Once a group of public employees organize and select a representative, apublic employer must collectively negotiate with that representative. For public schooldistricts, the school board, represented by the Superintendent, must negotiate a CBA with thelocal teachers’ union. Certain elements of the teacher-district relationship are explicitlyestablished by
New York Education Law
and are withheld from local collective bargaining.The stipulations withheld from local collective bargaining agreements include the rules fortenure, the ‘last in, first out’ layoff rules, and the recently established framework for teacherevaluations.By law, the school board and the teachers’ union must negotiate in good faith overcertain ‘mandatory’ subjects of employment; they may also negotiate over certain otherpermissive subjects. ‘Mandatory’ subjects broadly include the “wages, hours and other termsand conditions of employment”: more specifically, workload, disciplinary procedures, benefitsand leave provisions have been considered mandatory bargaining subjects. Additionally, andimportantly, the Taylor Law requires that any ‘permissive’ item (that would not ordinarily beconsidered a ‘mandatory’ subject of bargaining) becomes ‘mandatory’ for all future negotiationsbetween the parties once the term is included in a contract. Therefore, once a school districtand a union reach agreement over a provision in a contract, they must renegotiate thatprovision again whenever negotiations are opened back up for a new contract.Public employers and unions are also required to negotiate whenever decisions of theschool board have an impact on the terms and conditions of public employment (although theyneed not negotiate the managerial decisions themselves). Under the Taylor Law this is called“impact negotiations.” Impact negotiations must occur when the union makes a demand tonegotiate over the impact of a decision by the school board.The
, a provision of the Taylor Law, states that when acontract expires without a new contract being negotiated, the terms of the expired contractcontrol until a new agreement is reached. It is this provision that permits the BPS to continueto operate under a contract that expired over seven years ago. This amendment was enacted todiscourage public employees from going on strike; however, as a result, the provisionessentially makes it unlikely that a union would ever negotiate a new contract with lessfavorable terms, instead continuing to operate under the terms of the expired contract.The Taylor Law, therefore, makes public employer/employee negotiations complexproceedings that grow even more complicated as more items are added to the bargaining table.The result is that each new contract naturally ‘builds on’ previous contracts, and the easiestapproach is to add new terms, rather than to renegotiate the existing terms. With this in mind,the overall recommendation and goal of this report is to promote a ‘fresh start’ philosophy, andto encourage debate and discussion over the existing terms of the contract.