Justices: Teachers can bargain over pay for ‘ancillary duties,’ but not definition of duties

While teachers associations can bargain over compensation for “ancillary duties” such as supervising detention, they cannot bargain over what those duties actually are, the Indiana Supreme Court has ruled, upholding a determination by the Indiana Education Employment Relations Board. The decision rejects an argument from four teachers associations that their collective bargaining agreements simply agreed on the definition of an ancillary duty.

The dispute began in the 2017-2018 school year, when compliance officers with the board found that collective bargaining agreements ratified by the Culver Community Teachers Association, the Decatur County Education Association, the Smith-Green Community Schools Classroom Teachers Association and the West Clark Teachers Association violated Indiana law.

Specifically, the officers determined the CBAs violated Indiana Code § 20-29-6-4 by addressing ancillary duties. The challenged provisions defined ancillary duties such as supervising detention or filling in for an absent teacher and set payment rates for those duties. The compliance officers, however, determined these provisions were noncompliant because they went beyond bargaining over wages for such duties.

The board agreed and adopted the compliance officers’ reports, finding the teachers associations “impermissibly bargained for a definition of, or limitation on, what constitutes an ancillary duty … .” The associations sought judicial review, but the Marion Superior Court determined the board’s ruling was reasonable.

The Indiana Court of Appeals, however, reversed, ruling 2-1 that the parties only agreed to the definition of an ancillary duty and bargained over compensation, which “is not the same as bargaining.” Judge Patricia Riley dissented. 

In a Thursday opinion, the Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s denial of judicial review, finding the board properly struck the four challenged provisions.

“We first conclude that the relevant statutes prohibit the parties from bargaining over what constitutes ancillary duties,” Justice Mark Massa wrote for the unanimous Supreme Court. He pointed to legislative changes in 2011 that “eliminated permissive bargaining subjects altogether, while also limiting mandatory bargaining subjects to just wages, salaries and related fringe benefits,” and that “vested school employers with the authority to manage and direct the work of teachers … .”

The teachers’ associations argued that two cases — Indiana Education Employment Relations Board v. Nettle Creek Classroom Teachers Association and Jay Classroom Teachers Associations v. Jay School Corporation — supported their position. But according to Massa, those cases “allow bargaining over wages for ancillary duties, but not over the duties themselves.”

“The provisions at issue violate the plain language of the collective bargaining statutes,” the Supreme Court concluded. “… The holdings in Nettle Creek and Jay Classroom do not change the result.

“These cases allowed teachers to be paid for ancillary duties, whenever they occur, but neither case authorizes bargaining over the duties themselves,” Massa wrote. “Teachers and schools may not bargain over work assignments, including ancillary duties, because this is an impermissible bargaining subject and interferes with schools’ exclusive rights to assign and direct teachers’ work.

“… Going forward, teachers organizations and schools may bargain over wages for ancillary duties, and describe the conditions with proper disclaimers. But they may not engage in the type of bargaining at issue here,” he concluded. “Because the provisions were properly struck by the Board, the trial court correctly denied judicial review. We affirm.”

The case is Culver Community Teachers Association, Decatur County Education Association, Smith Green Community Schools Classroom Teachers Association, and West Clark Teachers Association, West Clark Community Schools v. Indiana Education Employment Relations Board, 21S-PL-64.

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