Sunday, May 31, 2015

Labor Update: Unfair Labor Practices and the Michigan Employment Relations Commission Process

But first--one important PSA--the Ann Arbor schools updated their web site this weekend. It was long planned because the web site has been rather hard to navigate and I hope this improves things. But also, I've been made aware that many of my blog links have been lost. This includes recent links I put up about negotiations. Boo. I am sorry, and I hope to recover some of them.

Now, back to negotiations:

1. The Ann Arbor Education Association (teachers' union) filed an unfair labor practices charge against the school district. Per their press release:
The AAEA is filing three charges against the district: 
1. The superintendent interfered and coerced AAEA members by communicating with them directly concerning the contract dispute.
2. The superintendent interfered with the administration of the AAEA by directly communicating with AAEA members concerning her interpretation of the actions taken by AAEA leadership.
3. The District repudiated the AAEA contract by maintaining that some sections are unenforceable or invalid, additionally claiming that the contract will expire June 30, 2015, and refusing to bargain over the International Baccalaureate Programme.

2. The school district responded by filing an unfair labor practice charge against the AAEA. I haven't seen the charges.

3. I asked a friend who is a labor lawyer what happens, generally speaking, with these unfair labor practices that go to the Michigan Employment Relations Commission. My friend wrote:

Generally, the case will be assigned to an administrative law judge. The respondent [the district, for the AAEA's charge, and vice versa] could file a motion to dismiss the charge. The ALJ, if he or she doesn't grant the motion would then hold a hearing. The hearing could last several days. The parties would present testimony and exhibits, which would be subject to cross examination. In addition the ALJ may ask questions. In lieu of closing statements, parties typically file a post hearing brief and submit them several weeks after the hearing. It could take months, and sometimes up to a year to get a ruling from the ALJ. That is, briefly, the process.  
So then I asked: So in the meantime does that halt the termination of contract timeline? Assuming that is one of the charges being contested... 

I don't believe the filing of a ULP can halt the proceedings in any way. Either party could file for a preliminary injunction, to maintain the status quo until the ULP is heard and decided. It is a pretty high standard. Whether a preliminary injunction should be issued is determined by a four-factor analysis: 1. harm to the public interest if an injunction issues; 2. whether harm to the applicant in the absence of a stay outweighs the harm to the opposing party if a stay is granted; 3. the strength of the applicant’s demonstration that the applicant is likely to prevail on the merits; and 4. demonstration that the applicant will suffer irreparable injury if a preliminary injunction is not granted.

4. So as things stand now, the district will implement as if the contract has terminated on June 30th. That means wages will stay the same as now (which is part of what the district has been after--they were scheduled to rise July 1). I guess (not sure about this) if the district loses, they would be responsible for paying the teachers back. I guess that's a risk they are willing to take. Since my labor lawyer friend says these things move kind of slowly, that could potentially be months of back pay...

5. See these signs? These are in support of Ann Arbor teachers and the union. They are not just for teachers! You can get one too.

UPDATE 6/1/2015: Get the signs at the Michigan Education Credit Union, 4141 Jackson Rd.

Consider subscribing to Ann Arbor Schools Musings by Email!

No comments:

Post a Comment