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BILL AS INTRODUCED 2007-2008

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H.178

Introduced by Representative Wright of Burlington

Referred to Committee on

Date:

Subject:  Education; statewide teachers’ contract

Statement of purpose:  This bill proposes to stipulate that all Vermont public schoolteachers will negotiate employment contracts with the state, and that the state will appropriate funds to pay teacher salaries.

AN ACT RELATING TO A STATEWIDE TEACHERS’ CONTRACT

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1.  16 V.S.A. § 1981(2) is amended to read:

(2)  “Professional negotiations” means the meeting, conferring, consulting, discussing, and negotiating in good faith between a school board or the state and a teachers’ organization or an administrators’ organization to reach agreement.

Sec. 2.  16 V.S.A. § 1981(8), (9), (10), and (11) are added to read:

(8)  “Public schoolteacher” means a teacher who is employed by a public school board in a position requiring licensure.

(9)  “State,” unless the context indicates otherwise, means the state of Vermont represented by the governor or the governor’s authorized representative.

(10)  “Exclusive representative” means any individual or employee organization chosen to represent teachers or administrators in negotiations with the state or a school board.

(11)  “Negotiating unit” means a group of employees eligible for exclusive representation by an employee organization in professional negotiations.  The negotiating unit includes those who are members of the employee organization and those who are not members.

Sec. 3.  16 V.S.A. § 1982 is amended to read:

§ 1982.  RIGHTS

(a)  Teachers shall have the right to self‑organize, and to or not to join, assist, or participate in any teachers’ organization of their choosing.  However, teachers may be required to pay an agency fee pursuant to an agreement negotiated under this chapter.

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(c)  Neither the state or the school board, nor any employee of the state or the school board, serving in any capacity, nor any other person or organization shall interfere with, restrain, coerce, or discriminate in any way against or for any teacher or administrator engaged in activities protected by this legislation.

Sec. 4.  16 V.S.A. § 1991 is amended to read:

§ 1991.  SELECTION OF REPRESENTATION

(a)  Teachers and administrators may select organizations to represent them in collective negotiations with the state or the school board.  The

(1)  In the case of public schoolteachers, the state shall recognize an organization as the exclusive representative of the teachers when that organization has proved its claim to sole and exclusive representative status as provided in this chapter.

(2)  In the case of independent schoolteachers or administrators, the school board shall recognize an organization as the exclusive representative of the teachers or of the administrators in the school district when that organization has proved its claim to sole and exclusive representative status of the respective group as hereinafter provided.  The superintendent, the assistant superintendent and the principal shall not serve as negotiating agents for the teachers’ organization.

(b)  When close or disputed questions of eligibility to vote and inclusion in the unit to be represented by the teachers’ organization arise, the general principle to be adhered to shall be that eligibility to vote and inclusion in that the negotiating unit will be limited to all teachers in the school district under contract and actually engaged in full‑time or part‑time positions which are not that of administrator.

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Sec. 5.  16 V.S.A. § 1992 is amended to read:

§ 1992.  ADMINISTRATORS AND INDEPENDENT SCHOOLTEACHERS; REFERENDUM PROCEDURE FOR REPRESENTATION

(a)  An organization purporting to represent a majority of all of the teachers independent schoolteachers or of all the administrators employed by the a school board may be recognized by the school board without the necessity of a referendum upon the submission of a petition bearing the valid signatures of a majority of the teachers independent schoolteachers or administrators employed by that school board.  Within fifteen 15 days after receiving the petition the school board shall notify the teachers or administrators of the school district in writing of its intention to either to require or waive a secret ballot referendum.  If the school board gives notice of its intention to waive a referendum and recognize an organization, ten percent of the teachers or administrators employed by the school board may submit a petition within fifteen 15 days thereafter, objecting to the granting or recognition without a referendum, in which event a secret ballot referendum shall be held among the administrators or independent schoolteachers in the district for the purpose of choosing an exclusive representative according to the guidelines for referendum contained in this legislation.

(b)  Recognition granted to a negotiating unit as exclusive representative of a group of independent schoolteachers or a group of administrators shall be valid and not subject to challenge by referendum petition or otherwise for the remainder of the fiscal year in which recognition is granted and for an additional period of twelve 12 months after final adoption of the budget for the succeeding fiscal year and shall continue thereafter until a new referendum is called for.

(c)  A secret ballot referendum shall be held any time that twenty 20 percent of the teachers independent schoolteachers or administrators employed by the a school board present a petition requesting a referendum on the matter of representation, except during a period of prior recognition, as hereinbefore provided.  Any organization interested in representing teachers employed by an independent school board or administrators in the a school district shall have the right to appear on the ballot by submitting a petition supported by ten percent or more of the teachers independent schoolteachers or administrators in the school district.

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Sec. 6.  16 V.S.A. § 1993 is added to read:

§ 1993.  PUBLIC SCHOOLTEACHERS; REFERENDUM PROCEDURE

               FOR REPRESENTATION

(a)  In determining who is to represent public schoolteachers in negotiations with the state under this chapter, the procedures of 21 V.S.A. §§ 1723 and 1724 shall be followed, except that:

(1)  “Municipal employer” refers to the state.

(2)  “Municipal employee” means a teacher.

(3)  There shall be one bargaining unit.

(4)  Subsection 1724(c) of Title 21 is not applicable.

(b)  The Vermont labor relations board shall have responsibility for making decisions on any matters in dispute regarding eligibility to be in the negotiating unit, eligibility to vote in the election, the mechanics of the election, and other necessary decisions relating to the conduct of the election.  Decisions of the board shall be final.

Sec. 7.  16 V.S.A. § 1994 is added to read:

§ 1994.  PUBLIC SCHOOLTEACHERS; UNFAIR LABOR PRACTICES

For the purpose of preventing unfair labor practices between teachers and the state, public schoolteachers and the state shall be subject to the provisions of 21 V.S.A. §§ 1726–1729 pursuant to 21 V.S.A. § 1735.  For the purposes of relations between teachers and the state, “employer” means the state, and:

(1)  In subdivision 1726(a)(1) of Title 21, “this chapter” means chapter 57 of this title.

(2)  Subdivisions 1726(a)(6) and (8) and (b)(5) and (6) of Title 21 do not apply.

Sec. 8.  16 V.S.A. chapter 57, subchapter 3 is redesignated to read:

Subchapter 3.  Negotiations between Administrators or Independent

Schoolteachers and their School Boards

Sec. 9.  16 V.S.A. § 2001 is amended to read:

§ 2001.  GOOD FAITH

The school board and the recognized teacher or administrator organization exclusive representative for independent schoolteachers or administrators shall meet together at reasonable times, upon request of either party, and shall negotiate in good faith on all matters properly before them under the provisions of this chapter.

Sec. 10.  16 V.S.A. chapter 57, subchapter 5 is added to read:

Subchapter 5.  Negotiations between Public Schoolteachers and the State

§ 2031.  GOOD FAITH

The state and the recognized public schoolteacher exclusive representative shall meet together at reasonable times, upon request of either party, and shall negotiate in good faith on all matters properly before them under the provisions of this chapter.


§ 2032.  DATE TO BEGIN

In each contract negotiated between the state and the public schoolteacher exclusive representative, the parties shall designate a date for the start of negotiations on the next contract.

§ 2033.  AGENDA; INPUT FROM OTHER PARTIES

(a)  The exclusive representative and the state shall negotiate on matters of salary, including the number of days and hours per day that the salary covers; insurance benefits; leave excluding extended leave which under rule of the state board requires employment of a licensed substitute; duration of contract; and grievance definition and procedures.  Economic conditions of employment for teachers not bargained under this section shall be determined by the local school board and teachers in accordance with subchapter 5 of chapter 9 of this title.  Nothing herein shall preclude a school board and teachers from agreeing, pursuant to subchapter 5 of chapter 9 of this title, to a grievance definition and procedure alternative to that negotiated under this section.

(b)  While conducting negotiations with public schoolteachers, the state shall consider recommendations of people or organizations; for example, representatives of the Vermont public school boards or the commissioner of education, who may be able to advise and assist.

§ 2034.  WRITTEN AGREEMENT

The state and the exclusive representative shall enter into a written agreement, incorporating matters agreed to in negotiation.

§ 2035.  MEDIATOR

If, after negotiation has taken place on all matters properly before them, the state and the exclusive representative are unable to reach agreement on specific negotiable items, they may jointly agree upon the services and person of a mediator for the purpose of assisting them in reconciling their differences and resolving the controversy on terms which are mutually acceptable.  If agreement cannot be reached upon the identity of a mediator, then either party may request mediation upon any and all unresolved issues to be conducted by the American Arbitration Association or its designee.  The parties shall meet with the mediator and make such information available as required.

§ 2036.  FACT‑FINDING COMMITTEE

(a)  If mediation fails to resolve outstanding differences or is not requested and a continuing disagreement persists, either party may, after negotiation on all matters properly before it, request that any or all unresolved issues be submitted to a fact‑finding committee by notifying the other party of its intention and setting forth in writing the issues to be submitted to fact‑finding.

(b)  The fact‑finding committee, which shall be activated as soon as practicable upon request, shall be composed of one member selected by the state, one member selected by the exclusive representative, and one member, who shall serve as chair, chosen by the other two members.  In the event that agreement cannot be reached on a third member for the fact‑finding committee, the American Arbitration Association shall be asked to appoint the third member.

(c)  The fact‑finding committee shall convene as soon as practicable after its appointment, hold informal hearings as necessary, and provide adequate opportunity to all parties to testify fully on, and present evidence regarding, their respective positions.  All parties to the dispute shall furnish the fact‑finding committee upon its request all records, papers, and information in their possession pertaining to any matter properly in issue before the fact‑finding committee.  The fact‑finding committee shall make a written report and shall deliver it to both parties, recommending a reasonable basis for the settlement of the disagreement within 30 days after the appointment of all members of the committee.

(d)  The report of the fact‑finding committee shall be advisory only and shall not be binding on either party.  The report shall be made public by the fact‑finding committee if the issues in dispute have not been resolved within ten days of the delivery of the report.

(e)  All expenses of fact‑finding and mediation shall be borne jointly by the parties to the dispute.

§ 2037.  FINALITY OF DECISIONS

All decisions of the state regarding matters in dispute in negotiations shall, after full compliance with this subchapter, be final.  However, the state shall not invoke finality sooner than 30 days after the report of a fact‑finder has been made public pursuant to subsection 2036(d) of this title or if both parties have agreed to binding arbitration under subchapter 4 of this title.

§ 2038.  RIGHT TO STRIKE

(a)  Except as provided in subsection (e) of this section, in this section, “strike” means a concerted stoppage of work by teachers.  “Strike” does not mean a concerted slowdown, interference, or interruption of operations or services by teachers, all of which actions are prohibited to public schoolteachers.

(b)  Teachers have the right to strike during negotiations with the state pursuant to this subchapter or following a decision of the general assembly to appropriate less than requested under section 2039 of this title.

(c)  A strike pursuant to subsection (b) of this section is prohibited under the following circumstances:

(1)  A court of competent jurisdiction, after due hearing, finds that the commencement or continuance of the strike poses a clear and present danger to a sound program of school education which it is in the best public interest to prevent.  Any restraining order or injunction issued by a court under this subdivision shall prohibit only a specific act or acts expressly determined in the findings of fact to pose a clear and present danger.

(2)  The strike occurs sooner than 30 days after the report of a fact‑finder has been made public pursuant to subsection 2036(d) of this title.

(3)  Both parties have voluntarily agreed to binding arbitration under subchapter 4 of this chapter, except that in this case, the teachers may strike following a decision of the general assembly to appropriate less than requested under section 2039 of this title.

(d)  For a violation of subsection (b) of this section, an injunction or other appropriate relief may be obtained upon petition to the Washington superior court.

(e)  A strike, which in this subsection has the same meaning as provided in 21 V.S.A. § 1722(16), in protest of a decision or action of a school board, is prohibited.  For a violation of this subsection, a school board may petition the superior court within the county in which the board is located for an injunction or other appropriate relief.

§ 2039.  APPROPRIATION

An agreement between the state and the exclusive representative shall be submitted to the governor, who shall request from the general assembly the amount necessary to compensate the teachers according to the negotiated compensation schedule.

Sec. 11.  16 V.S.A. § 2021 is amended to read:

§ 2021.  NEGOTIATED BINDING INTEREST ARBITRATION

(a)  Arbitration In negotiations under either subchapter 3 or 5 of this chapter, arbitration shall only occur if both parties agree in writing to submit to binding arbitration.  An agreement to accept binding interest arbitration may not be revoked.

(b)  The parties may mutually agree to accept binding interest arbitration at any time after impasse is reached.  If the parties have neither accepted all recommendations of a fact‑finder nor reached an independent agreement on all issues in dispute, either the state, the school board, or the recognized representative organization may request binding interest arbitration by written notice to the other party.  The parties shall mutually agree on one of the following limitations on the jurisdiction of the arbitrator:

(1)  Arbitration under which the award is confined to a choice between one of the following single packages:

(A)  The last best offer of the state or the school board.

(B)  The last best offer of the recognized representative organization.

(2)  Arbitration under which the award is confined to a choice between one of the following on an issue‑by‑issue basis:

(A)  The last best offer of the state or the school board.

(B)  The last best offer of the recognized representative organization.

(c)  A strike, which shall have the same meaning as provided in section subdivision 1722(16) of Title 21, shall be prohibited if it occurs after both parties have voluntarily submitted a dispute to final and binding arbitration or after a decision or award has been issued by the arbitrator.  A school board may petition for an injunction or other appropriate relief from the superior court within the county wherein such strike in violation of this section is occurring or is about to occur.  This subsection applies only to administrators and independent schoolteachers.

(d)  If any provision of this subchapter is inconsistent with any other provision of law governing arbitration, this subchapter shall govern.

Sec. 12.  16 V.S.A. § 2025 is amended to read:

§ 2025.  FACTORS TO BE CONSIDERED BY ARBITRATOR

(a)  At the hearing, each party shall have full opportunity to submit all relevant evidence, to introduce relevant documents and written material, and to argue on behalf of its positions.  At the hearing, both parties may present evidence regarding the financial capacity of the state or the school district.  The arbitrator shall preside over such hearing.

(b)  In reaching a decision, the arbitrator shall give weight to the factors listed in subsection (a) of this section, plus the following factors:

(1)  The lawful authority of the state or the school board.

(2)  Stipulations of the parties.

(3)  The interest and welfare of the public and the financial ability of the state or the school board to pay for increased costs of public services, including the cost of labor.

(4)  Comparisons of the wages, hours, and conditions of employment of the employees involved in the dispute with the wages, hours, and conditions of employment of other employees performing similar services in public schools in comparable communities or in private employment in comparable communities.

(5)  The average consumer prices for goods and services commonly known as the cost of living.

(6)  The overall compensation presently received by the employees, including direct wages, fringe benefits, and continuity conditions, and stability of employment, and all other benefits received.

(7)  Prior negotiations and existing conditions of other school and municipal employees.

Sec. 13.  16 V.S.A. § 2026 is amended to read:

§ 2026.  NOTICE OF AWARD

The arbitrator shall file one copy of the decision with the state and the exclusive representative in the case of public schoolteacher negotiations or, in the case of independent schoolteacher or administrator negotiations, with each city or town clerk in the school district involved, the school board, and the recognized organization.  The decision of the arbitrator shall be final and binding upon the parties to the dispute.

Sec. 14.  16 V.S.A. chapter 9, subchapter 5 is added to read:

Subchapter 5.  Public School Board and Teacher Decision‑Making

§ 568.  RESOLUTION OF ISSUES

(a)  Issues involving economic conditions of employment for teachers not bargained under chapter 57 of this title and any mutually agreed-upon matters not in conflict with law shall be resolved under this subchapter.  Matters of educational and school policy as set forth in section 563 of this title shall not be subject to this process.

(b)  Nothing in this subchapter shall preclude teachers from organizing for the purposes of resolving issues under this subchapter.

(c)  For purposes of organization, public schoolteachers shall be subject to the procedures of sections 1991 and 1992 of this title.

§ 569.  SCHOOL BOARD AND TEACHER DECISION‑MAKING

            PROCESS

(a)  The school board and teachers of a district shall mutually agree upon a procedure for discussion and resolution of issues under this subchapter.  The procedure shall be one that enables discussion and resolution of issues that are of importance to the teachers or the board in a way that is fair, satisfactory to all, and in keeping with the best interests of the students.  The procedure shall be set forth in writing and ratified by each party.

(b)  In the absence of a mutually agreed-upon procedure, the teachers and board shall follow the procedure set forth in this subchapter.

(c)  Two or more school districts may develop and implement a joint procedure under this section.

§ 570.  FACULTY-BOARD RELATIONS COUNCIL

(a)  Unless the teachers and the school board of a district agree to a procedure pursuant to section 569 of this title, they shall create a faculty-board relations council for the purpose of discussing and resolving issues under this subchapter.  The council shall consist of two members of the school board chosen by the board and two teachers elected by the teachers.  The superintendent shall appoint one administrator to provide staff assistance to the council.  The council shall meet monthly, or more often if mutually agreed upon.

(b)  At the request of any two council members, the council shall discuss any issue or issues described in subsection 568(a) of this title.

(c)  Pending resolution of a dispute between the board and teachers, conditions of the former agreement or contract shall apply.

(d)  If, after discussion, council members cannot resolve an issue or issues raised and discussed at a monthly meeting, they shall place the issue or issues on the formal agenda for the next monthly meeting.  If an issue or issues remain unresolved following that meeting, they shall be placed on the formal agenda for the monthly meeting following.

(e)  If an issue or issues are unresolved after being on the formal agenda for two monthly meetings, the council may proceed to one or more of the following:

(1)  Mediation.

(2)  Binding arbitration.  The council shall proceed to binding arbitration only if both the board and teachers ratify this step.

(3)  Further discussion at monthly meetings.

(4)  Postponement of discussion to a date certain.

(f)  If the council does not agree to use any of the processes of subsection (e) of this section for dispute resolution or if mediation fails to resolve an issue and, following mediation, the council does not proceed to binding arbitration, the council shall request that the issue or issues be heard by the faculty-board appeal panel.

(g)  If, at any point in the process, the teachers and school board are satisfied that they have reached an agreement, they shall put the agreement into writing.

(h)  The council shall be exempt from the open meeting law of subchapter 2 of chapter 5 of Title 1.

§ 570a.  REPRESENTATION; RATIFICATION OF AGREEMENTS

(a)  If, by petition, ten percent of the teachers in a district question who shall represent the teachers in developing a mutually agreed-upon procedure under section 569 of this title, who is elected to be a teacher member of the council under section 570 of this title, or whether ratification of an agreement under either section is valid, the superintendent shall conduct a referendum by secret ballot.  The petition must be presented to the superintendent within 30 days of the choice of a representative, election of a council member, or ratification of an agreement.

(b)  If the teachers are organized under section 568 of this title, the organization shall ratify agreements and represent the teachers in developing a mutually agreed-upon procedure under section 569 of this title and in council meetings under section 570 of this title.

§ 570b.  FACULTY-BOARD APPEAL PANEL

(a)  Unless teachers and the school board agree to a procedure pursuant to section 569 of this title, they shall create a faculty-board appeal panel for the purpose of hearing and deciding issues that are unresolved under section 568 of this title.  The panel shall be made up of five legal voters in the school district who are neither regularly employed by the school district or a school district within the same supervisory union nor members of a public school board.  A member may serve for an unlimited number of terms.  A term shall be one year.  If a vacancy occurs before a term expires, the replacement shall be chosen in the same manner as the original member.  The members of the panel shall be chosen as follows:

(1)  Two shall be elected by a majority of the teachers voting.  All teachers in the school district under contract and actually engaged in full‑time or part‑time positions which are not that of administrator shall be eligible to vote.  If at any point up to 30 days after choosing a member or until the first hearing in which the new member will participate, whichever comes first, ten percent of the teachers in a district sign a petition requesting a secret ballot, the superintendent shall conduct a referendum.

(2)  Two shall be chosen by the school board.

(3)  One shall be elected by a majority of the members selected under subdivisions (1) and (2) of this subsection.  This member shall serve as chair.

(b)  Upon request of the faculty-board relations council, the panel shall meet within 30 days.  All meetings of the panel shall be open to the public.  The panel shall give both parties the opportunity to present evidence and argument and to respond to argument on all issues involved.  Either party may conduct cross‑examination required for a full disclosure of the facts.  The panel shall keep a record of its proceedings and other official actions.  The record shall be filed in the office of the clerk of the district or supervisory union as a public record.  For the conduct of any hearing and the taking of any action, a quorum shall be not less than three members of the panel.  Any action of the panel shall be taken by the concurrence of a majority of the entire panel.

(c)  The panel shall consider the position of the school board and either affirm, reverse, or modify the position, or remand the issue to the council.

(d)  In making a decision under this section, the panel shall affirm a position of the school board if it finds that it is more likely than not that the position:

(1)  was taken after good faith discussions;

(2)  was taken after following the procedures of section 570 of this title; and

(3)  was reasonable.

§ 570c.  UNFAIR LABOR PRACTICES

For the purpose of preventing unfair labor practices, teachers and school boards shall be subject to the provisions of 21 V.S.A. §§ 1726–1729, pursuant to 21 V.S.A. § 1735.  For the purposes of relations between teachers and their school boards, subdivisions 1726(a)(8) and (b)(6) do not apply.  In addition, subdivisions 1726(a)(5) and (b)(4) shall not apply:

(1)  if a school board and teachers in a district have agreed to a decision‑making process pursuant to section 569 of this title that enables impartial review of whether discussion and attempted resolution of issues was carried out in good faith; or

(2)  if the board and teachers of a district have failed to agree on a decision‑making process and are therefore subject to the provisions of sections 570 and 570b of this title.

Sec. 15.  16 V.S.A. § 1751 is amended to read:

§ 1751.  SCHOOL BOARD AS EMPLOYER; CONTRACT

(a)  Notwithstanding the fact that the teachers’ compensation schedule is negotiated between the state of Vermont and the recognized teacher organization, and notwithstanding the fact that the school district receives aid from the state of Vermont for funding teacher compensation, a teacher shall be an employee of the school board.  Decisions regarding hiring, evaluation, suspension, nonrenewal of contract, conditions of employment other than those negotiated under chapter 57 of this title, and dismissal of the teacher shall be made by the school board.

(b)  A contract between a board of school directors and a teacher shall not be valid unless the same is in writing, or partly written and partly printed, in triplicate, and signed by the teacher and by a majority of the board or by a member of the board or other person who has been duly authorized by a majority vote of the board at a regular meeting to sign the contract in question on behalf of the board.  One copy thereof shall be filed with the board, one copy delivered to the teacher, and one copy delivered to the superintendent.  Such contract shall specify the date when the teacher shall begin service, the time, grade and date of expiration of the license held by the teacher, the salary of the teacher and such other matters as may be necessary for a complete understanding between the parties.

(c)  A public schoolteacher shall be compensated by a public school board according to the agreement negotiated between the state and the public

schoolteacher negotiating unit.  Except as provided in this subsection, a school board may not enter into separate negotiations with a teacher and may not provide the teacher compensation beyond or below that set forth in the contract for a teacher of equal experience and qualifications performing the same duties.  For extra student‑attendance days and teacher in‑service education days and extra hours worked during student‑attendance and in‑service days, a school board shall pay compensation according to the statewide contract on a prorated basis.  A board, however, may pay compensation at a different rate from that set forth in the statewide contract for the performance of extra‑ or cocurricular activities or days or hours worked during days that are not student‑attendance or teacher in‑service days.

Sec. 16.  EFFECTIVE DATE

This act shall take effect for school year 2009–2010.



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us