There is a long history in Missouri with respect to representation of teachers by two separate and distinct unions leading to the question of which union would represent the teachers in a school district after the Missouri Supreme Court held that public employees had the right to engage in collective bargaining.
The Springfield R–12 School District (District) established rules for the selection of the bargaining unit to represent teachers. Following the procedures established by the District a majority of the members of the bargaining unit voted for exclusive representation by SNEA. The District then recognized SNEA as the exclusive representative for the collective bargaining unit.
In 2013, the District and the SNEA conducted meetings and negotiations to address a second, two-year collective bargaining agreement. The SNEA held a meeting with the teachers in the bargaining unit, including nonmembers of the SNEA, to discuss the proposed 2013-15 agreement. Not all teachers are members of SNEA although nonmembers are entitled to the benefits of the negotiated contract, whether or not they are a member of another teacher organization. The 2013–15 agreement would have eliminated the funding for a full-time paid representative of SMSTA who handled matters relating to the affairs of SMSTA. During the meeting the SNEA held a vote to determine if the agreement should be ratified, limiting the right to vote on the ratification to only members of SNEA, which was approved by a majority vote.
After the vote approving the agreement, two non-member teachers – including the one whose position was eliminated as a SMSTA representative – sued in Circuit Court alleging that the District and SNEA violated the constitutionally duty to bargain in good faith by not allowing nonmembers to vote on the collective bargaining agreement and requesting that the court order the District and SNEA to submit the collective bargaining agreements for ratification to a vote of all members of the Unit.
The trial court ruled there was no violation of the duty to bargain in good faith by not allowing nonmembers of a union to vote when the union has been certified as the exclusive bargaining unit based upon long-standing cases involving interpretation of Federal and other state laws. The trial court’s opinion provides an extensive analysis of the duty to bargain in “good faith” as the exclusive representative of members of the bargaining unit including nonmembers who do not belong to the union. This case would appear to solidify the analysis that the duty to bargain in “good faith” is one of the paramount considerations in determining collective-bargaining obligations by local government and unions. The courts will continue to look to federal and other states to determine what constitutes bargaining in “good faith” when there is no Missouri case law on the question. Missouri State Teachers Association, vs. Springfield National Education Association, and School District of Springfield, R-12, Greene County Circuit Court, Division One, Case No. 1331-CC00904 For Case Use Hyperlink: https://www.courts.mo.gov/fv/c/Findings+of+Fact,+Conclusions+of+Law,+and+Judgment.pdf?l=CT31&di=1643948
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