Provisions in Labor Union-Employer Contracts

Introduction

Contracts are agreements, which are legally enforceable and binding. The parties to specified contracts enter them out of their own accord. The contracts are formed when the attendant offers are accepted by the parties another according to Hanami (1979). The parties ought to have intentions to be bound lawfully by the provisions constituting the contracts to make them legally enforceable. When a party to a contract breaches any provision in it, he or she may suffer damage settlements, particular injunctions, or the repudiation of the contract to his or her detriment (Andreassen, Marks & Sengupta, 2010). The provisions that constitute contracts are legal conditions or clauses that obligate the parties to the contracts to execute specific requirements within particular timeframes. The requirements may include, though not constrained to, anti-greenmail, anti-dilution, sunset, and soft-call provisions. Each provision in a contract is put in place to safeguard a specific party’s interests. This paper explores some of the provisions contained in the “Master Contract between Northern Berrien County Education Association/ The Watervliet Education Association and the Watervliet Board of Education for 2012-2013 2013-2014 2014-2015” (Mackinac Center for Public Policy, 2016). As well, the paper examines how the provisions affect the schools managed by the board. Notably, the master contract became effective at the start of the 2012/2013 academic year.

Right to Organize  

In the master contract, the “Right to Organize” provision is under Article 3. The article spells out the rights that the teachers are to enjoy in line with the contract. The provision has it that the board recognizes that the teachers serving in the schools have an unconditional right to associate with others out of own volition in pursuit of their group, as well as individual, interests (Mackinac Center for Public Policy, 2016). The provision means that the teachers serving in the public schools managed by the board have the right to take organized, or collective, action in pursuit of own interests.

Notably, the provision speaks to a collective right and an individual right that every democratic, contemporary legal system guarantees another according to Hanami (1979). Some of the legal instruments recognizing the right include the US Bill of Rights, the EU Convention on Human Rights’ 11th article, and the International Labor Organization’s 87th along with 98th conventions. Others are the UDHR (Universal Declaration of Human Rights) along with Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Regarding the master contract, the provision means several things which have a bearing on the board, the teachers, and the schools (Andreassen, Marks & Sengupta, 2010).

First, the provision means that the teachers have a lawful right to support, join, and assist in organizing any labor unions they choose. That means that they are entitled to time off from their school duties to execute union-related activities such as attending the meetings called by the unions they join (Andreassen, Marks & Sengupta, 2010). Second, the provision means that the teachers are free to work in concert with others to assist one another according to Hanami (1979). Third, it means that the teachers are free to engage the board jointly as opposed to individually. Fourth, it means that the teachers are free to act as a group in pursuit of their shared objectives provided that the actions they take are in line with the applicable laws (Andreassen, Marks & Sengupta, 2010). Fifth, the provision means that the board should allow the teachers their requests for time off to partake in union activities another according to Hanami (1979).

“Bargaining Unit” Recognition 

In the master contract, the “Right to Organize” recognition provision is under Article 1. The provision has it that the association is recognized by the board as the only bargaining representative of the guidance counselors, classroom teachers, long-term alternate teachers, and librarians envisaged by the 1965 Public Acts, particularly Act 379 (Michigan, 1965, p.178). The association is recognized by the board as the sole representative of the labor interests of the guidance counselors, classroom teachers, long-term alternate teachers, and librarians under the board’s employment, save for executive along with supervisory personnel; clerical and office personnel; community along with adult education instructors; operating along with maintenance staff; other alternate instructors; and aides (Mackinac Center for Public Policy, 2016).

The provision confirms that the association is appreciated by the board as its formal partner in deliberating on issues relating to the guidance counselors, classroom teachers, long-term alternate teachers, and librarians envisaged by the 1965 Public Acts, particularly Act 379 (Michigan, 1965, p.178). The provision means that the association and the board have shared interests in actualizing the schools’ objectives, plans, and aims along with the continued success and development of the schools and their staff members and learners. The provision communicates the contract’s spirit, as well as intention, to grow excellent relationships between the board and the parties whose interests are represented by the union (Ayres, Wheelen, Burpo & Shanahan, 1977). The relationships are envisaged as platforms that can allow for mutually consented ways of negotiating, consulting, and discussing between the board and the parties.

The provision makes the board, which is an employer, and the association both commit to an employee relations system that operates at every level of the schools managed by the board in line with the principal values of collaboration and teamwork (Ayres, Wheelen, Burpo & Shanahan, 1977). The system will also be managed in line with mutual respect and transparency values. Besides, the provision obligates the board and the schools to recognize the association’s duty to execute collective bargaining along with protect and represent its members’ interests.

“Public Information” Right

In “Master Contract between Northern Berrien County Education Association/ The Watervliet Education Association and the Watervliet Board of Education for 2012-2013 2013-2014 2014-2015”, the “Public Right” provision is under Article 4. The article contains the rights that the association is entitled to in line with the contract. The provision indicates that the board shall meet every request made by the association for publicly available information, which is required by association for contract administration and bargaining or for the appropriate handling of complaints or grievances. Whenever the board is mailing out public information, the board is obligated to ensure that one of the recipients of the information is the president of the association according to Mackinac Center for Public Policy (2016).

Clearly, the association requires information that only the board can avail to police the master contract appropriately. All stewards ought to recognize that the board ought to afford the association with the requisite information represent its members properly according to Barnett (1995). Notably, the unions can request for varied forms of information from employers (Ayres, Wheelen, Burpo & Shanahan, 1977). They request for work rules, supervisor’s notes, time cards, payroll records, production records, salary records, contracts with suppliers, accident records, customer lists, health and safety studies, performance reviews, and job assignment records (Bowers, Duggan & Reade, 2004).

They request for wage and salary records, names of witnesses, correspondence, disciplinary records, insurance policies, security records, subcontracting contracts, training manuals, pension contribution records, and bargaining notes (Ayres, Wheelen, Burpo & Shanahan, 1977). As well, unions may request for attendance records, customer contracts, inspection records, seniority lists, videotapes, job evaluations, job bids, job descriptions, employer memos, client complaints, customer complaints, equipment specifications, interview notes, piece rate records or photographs according to Barnett (1995).

Typically, the right to the information and the information assist labor unions fulfill their mandates in various ways. First, the information supplied by employers helps unions determine whether or not to file specific grievances (Bowers, Duggan & Reade, 2004). Second, the information supports the unions in proving their contestations to win specific grievance according to Barnett (1995). Third, the information helps employers proving their contestations. Fourth, the information helps the unions in preparing and presenting arbitration cases and getting ready for the attendant negotiations.

Conclusion

            Just like any other typical contract, the “Master Contract between Northern Berrien County Education Association/ The Watervliet Education Association and the Watervliet Board of Education for 2012-2013 2013-2014 2014-2015” explored in this paper has varied provisions. As noted earlier, the provisions that constitute contracts are legal conditions or clauses that obligate the parties to the contracts to execute specific requirements within particular timeframes. Each of the provisions in a contract is put in place to safeguard a specific party’s interests.

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