An email Carmel Clay administrators sent to teachers about contract negotiations in the middle of collective bargaining last fall did not constitute an unfair labor practice, according to a review by the Indiana Education Employment Relations Board.
Changes to Indiana’s collective bargaining law in 2011 created a new timeline for contract negotiations between teachers unions and school districts. Most Indiana school districts signed labor agreements before an October deadline, but teachers represented by the Carmel Clay Education Association still don’t have a contract in place for the 2012-13 school year.
Typically, IEERB would have intervened months ago, sending in a fact finder to select between a final offer from each side. That process was suspended in December after the teachers union complained the district had tried to undermine negotiations by circulating an email about the collective bargaining process to staff.
But the hearing examiner who heard the case ruled there was insufficient evidence to support the unfair labor practice claim.“School employers are permitted to communicate with members of the public, including teachers, about areas of public concern such as collective bargaining,” writes IEERB Hearing Examiner Bernard Pylitt. “Petitioners failed to present sufficient evidence to demonstrate an intent by the School Corporation to bypass the Association.”
The Education Association had asked for relief in the form of its last best offer being accepted. But Pylitt concluded that the final offer from the teachers union had included funding from the district’s rainy day reserve, which wasn’t allowed at that stage in the negotiations.
On the group’s Facebook page, the CCEA indicated Monday it planned to appeal Pylitt’s decision.
“CCEA continues to believe that Carmel Clay Schools committed unfair labor practices and will continue to pursue this case through all legal channels,” the association wrote in a statement.
The last day of school in Carmel Clay is Thursday. The contract in dispute is only for the 2012-13 school year, which means the teachers association and the school district will also have to negotiate a contract next year.