As school boards prepare for negotiations this spring, one question is sure to arise: “Why is this in the contract?” And the next question might be: “Can we take that out?”
Generally, the removal of important substantive provisions from a collective bargaining agreement is no easy task. The rules and precedents involved have been set by the Legislature, the courts, the commissioner of education and a quasi-judicial body called the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB).
First, the Triborough Amendment to the state’s Taylor Law requires all provisions in an expired collective bargaining agreement to be continued until the next agreement is approved by both parties, which makes the current contract the starting point for negotiations.
Second, once a subject is included in the collective bargaining agreement, it will have the status of a term and condition of employment, even if the subject not included within the agreement would be a non-mandatory subject (one that could be unilaterally changed by the school district without a duty to negotiate a change).
The net result is that the school district must obtain the union’s agreement in order to delete or modify a current contractual provision.