Windsor Central Teachers and Support Professionals
Glossary of Bargaining Terms
Bargaining Unit - All employees eligible to belong to the union which negotiates the Master Agreement for them with the employer, whether or not they are members of the union. By law, the organization represents all employees within the bargaining unit, whether they join the union or not. The specifics of which positions are part of the bargaining unit are found in the Recognition Clause of the Master Agreement.
Collective Bargaining – The process of negotiating in good faith the wages, hours and conditions of employment between the school board and the union with the intent to arrive at an agreement which, when reached, shall be reduced to writing.
Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA, Master Contract, Master Agreement) - A formal, written agreement between a school board and the union, negotiated by the union for all members of the bargaining unit.
Exclusive Bargaining Agent - The union certified by the Vermont Labor Relations Board or recognized by the school board as the only organization to bargain collectively for all employees in the bargaining unit, including persons who are not members of the union.
Fact Finding - A part of the collective bargaining process. Somewhat like a court proceeding, fact finding is the step in the impasse procedure after mediation to attain a contract. Both parties present their case to a fact finder who hears the case and then writes a report within 30 days containing recommendations for a settlement. When the two sides receive the report, they have 10 days in which to settle the dispute. If this does not occur, the report must be made public. Fact finding in Vermont is not binding on either party, but should be used in good faith by both sides in an attempt to reach a settlement. Strikes may occur and/or working conditions based on the board's last offer may be imposed no sooner than 30 days after receipt of a fact finding report.
Fair Share Fee (sometimes referred to as Agency Fee) - A fee for representation in collective bargaining, not exceeding teachers' or support staffs’ union dues, payable to the union which is the exclusive bargaining agent for teachers or support staff members in a bargaining unit, from individuals who are not members of the union. It requires non-members to pay their “fair share” of the costs the Association incurs in negotiating and enforcing the contract to which non-members benefit.
Finality – See Imposition.
Ground Rules - A set of rules or guidelines established by the negotiating teams that assist the parties in understanding what to expect from each other during negotiations.
Individual Employment Contract – The contract that an individual employee signs which specifically states the employee’s salary, hours/dates of employment, and other terms and conditions of employment. The individual employment contract must be consistent with the Master Agreement.
Informational Picketing - Picketing for the purpose of informing the public.
Impasse - The point at which one or both parties in contract negotiations declare they have negotiated as long as they can and are still unable to resolve some of the issues. The procedures used to attempt to resolve an impasse are mediation and fact finding. Outside help is available to assist both sides in reaching agreement – private mediators, federal mediators, and fact finders.
Imposition – A provision in Vermont's Teachers' Collective Bargaining law which permits the school board to declare negotiations over and impose working conditions on teachers. Imposition -- or "finality," as it is sometimes called -- can be legal. An imposition (the school board’s last step in the negotiations process) is really the final hammer available to the school board. The board declares negotiations are over and it unilaterally forces the employees to work under the imposed “terms and conditions of employment.” There is not a negotiated contract in place after an imposition. An imposition may take place no sooner than thirty days after the fact finder’s report is received.
Mandatory Subjects of Bargaining – These are the subjects for negotiations that must be negotiated between the school boards and the Association as defined by Vermont Statutes. Under the teacher law, they include items which fall within the categories of “salary, related economic conditions of employment, an agency service fee, procedures for processing complaints and grievances relating to employment.” Under the support staff law, those items include “wages, hours and conditions of employment.”
Master Agreement – See Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Master Contract – See Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Mediation - This is usually the step in collective bargaining after the declaration of impasse, although it may precede that declaration and it may be bypassed in favor of going directly to fact finding. In mediation, a neutral party -- or mediator -- is agreed to by both sides or is brought in from either the American Arbitration Association or Federal Mediation & Conciliation Service. The mediator attempts to get the parties to resume negotiations under his or her supervision. The mediator is not necessarily interested in what is fair; he or she is merely interested in getting a settlement. Even if mediation does not succeed in obtaining a final agreement, it can narrow the issues so that fewer items will have to be taken to fact finding.
Negotiating Team - A group of school employees who are members of the bargaining unit selected to represent the Association in bargaining a contract with the school board. School boards also form a negotiating team which can be made up of school board members, the superintendent and/or outside legal counsel.
Negotiations - See Collective Bargaining.
New Money – The additional amount paid to a given staff year to year which is attributable to increases caused by step movement and raising of the “Base Salary.” It does not include the cost of salary column changes for those teachers who move salary columns. “New Money” can be expressed as either a percentage or a dollar amount. Remember that it always assumes that the staff stays constant (even if you know it will not stay constant), so that you can compare “apples to apples.” The staff in place in the last year of the current Agreement is the staff used to project new money costs in subsequent years. Generally, but not always, it is assumed that the index is not modified, and all those eligible will move a step. In other words, if you take the cost of salaries in one year and project the same staff, out into the next year, the difference in cost is the “New Money”. It is a combined number or percentage that represents the increase given to the staff as a whole and does not necessarily represent the percentage increase that specific individual teachers receive - the individual increase received depends on that person’s training, experience and placement on the salary schedule or wage scale.
Permissive Subjects of Bargaining – These are the topics which fall outside the mandatory category of “wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment.” (See definition under Mandatory Subjects of Bargaining). They may be placed on the bargaining table for voluntary bargaining and agreement. The other party, however, may not be required to bargain on them or to agree to their inclusion in a contract. Insistence on them as a condition to the execution of a contract will be a violation of the bargaining duty.
Picketing – Advertising the existence of a labor dispute and the Association’s position usually done by members of a union carrying signs.
Proposal – The stated position of one party in negotiations for something it would like to add, modify or remove from the Master Agreement.
Strike - A collective job action in which members of an employee union withhold their services for various reasons, including failure to reach agreement on a successor contract. A strike is the union’s last step in the negotiations process. The purpose of this “final hammer” is to induce the school board to settle on negotiated terms the union can accept. Neither a strike nor an imposition may take place prior to thirty days after receiving the fact finder’s report.
Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) - An action taken either by an employer or a union which is harassing, discriminatory, taken in bad faith, or otherwise in violation of the standards of fair play in labor-management relations. Examples of a ULP might be changing benefits during bargaining, firing an employee for union activities, or discrimination in hiring or transfer practices. This usually involves the totality of conduct and does not usually rest with one incident unless such incident is egregious in nature.
Unfair Labor Practice Charge - Formal allegations against the school board or the union filed with the Vermont Labor Relations Board.