William Allan Kritsonis, PhD COLLECTIVE BARGIANING DEFININTION Collective bargaining is defined as the negotiation between an employer and a union to determine the wages, hours and other terms of employment for a group of employees with common duties and interests and similar pay. The collective bargaining agreement will be active for a set period of time. COLLECTIVE BARGAINING IN EDUCATION The major purpose of collective bargaining in education is to develop and nurture those educational leadership skills which are germane to the understanding and application of collective bargaining law. The major thrusts are to provide the students with a conceptual base from which they can exert educational leadership, develop those technical skills necessary to function effectively, and identify and foster human skills associated with successful contract development and management. TEACHER UNIONS/COLLECTIVE BARGAINING Background in 1935 Congress passed the National Labor Relation Act (Wagner Act) which guarantees the right of private employees to form and join unions to bargain collectively. A wide range of provisions may be negotiated in collective bargaining between teachers’ unions and school districts. The following are some of the matters that are often the subject of bargaining: academic freedom, curriculum, wages and salaries, training, hours, workload, and teaching responsibilities, tenure, and probationary period, promotion, reappointment personnel files etc. Constitutional Considerations: the First Amendment of the Bill Of Rights provides: “Congress shall make no law prohibiting…the right of people peaceably to assemble.” This right, as applied to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution, has been interpreted to give teachers and other employees the right to free association, including the right to join a union, such as the National Education Association or the American Federation of Teachers. STATE AND LOCAL PROVISIONS GOVERNING COLLECTIVE BARGAINING The National Labor Relations Act governs labor relations in private schools, subject to some limitations. A teachers’ union of a private schools should determine whether the NRLA applies to its school. State labor statues generally govern labor relations between public school districts and teachers’ unions. Collective bargaining statues differ considerably from state to state, with some states providing much more guidance and specific rules than others. Forming and Joining A Union To Bargain Collectively Laws governing the representation process are often quite complex. This process prefaces the collective bargaining process and involves numerous considerations, including types of employees that will constitute a “bargaining unit,” as well as the selection of an appropriate union to represent teachers. In the public school sector, state law affects both of these determinations. Some states exclude certain employees from a bargaining unit, including supervisors and individuals in management positions. BARGAINING UNITS Teachers seeking to join for collective bargaining must define an appropriate bargaining unit. Under most labor relations statues, only those individuals who share a “community of interests” may compromise an appropriate bargaining unit. Community of interests generally means that the teachers have substantial mutual interests, including the following: Wages or compensation Hours of Work Employment benefits Supervision Qualifications Training and skills Job functions Contract with other employees Integration of work functions with other employees History of collective bargaining ILLINOIS EDUCATIONAL LABOR ACT The Illinois Educational Labor Act is an act to establish the right of educational employees to organize and bargain collectively to define and resolve unfair practice disputes and to establish the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board to administer the Act. ILLINOIS SCHOOL DISTRICT BUDGET PROCESS Collective bargaining is one of the most complex areas of school administration. Successful experiences in this endeavor involve the ability to timely orchestrate a myriad of special skills and knowledge. School law, labor law, personal administration, human relations, labor relations, school finance, community pressures, communication skills, and common sense is included in this myriad. Access to timely and accurate information is also vital to successfully completing negotiations. They also publish a annual IASA publication to assist in the collection of key salary and general contract data that can be used in collective bargaining planning and decision making. COLLECTIVE BARGAINING TIGHTROPE The collective bargaining process between a board of education and a teachers’ union can have wide-ranging effects, not only for board members and teachers but also for the community. The superintendent, often caught in the middle, must put politics aside and focus on doing what’s right for the students. ILLINOIS PROVISIONS GOVERNING COLLECTIVE BARGAINING Illinois: Educational employees at all levels permitted to bargain under the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act. However, several types of employees, including supervisors, managers, confidential employees, short-term employees, and students, are excluded from bargaining by statue. Impasse procedures include mediation and fact-finding. Arbitration is permitted. Strikes are permitted after several conditions set forth in the statue are met.
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