In the case of Norwalk Teacher’s Ass’n v. Board of Education, a teacher’s association sued the Board of Education seeking a court determination of its right to organize as a labor union. The teacher’s association sought a declaratory judgment, or declaration, which is a determination of a court that resolves a legal uncertainty between the parties. In the case at hand, the teachers hope that the court will confirm their argument that they could organize a teacher’s strike under their authority as a legal union.
The case arose from a contractual dispute between the teachers and the board of education. The contract was up for renewal, and the teacher’s association wanted their rights clarified, specifically as to their right to strike.
The Court’s Ruling
The court ruled that, as government employees of the public school system, the employees and association did not have the right to strike. However, the court also held that teacher’s association had the right to organize as a labor union and act as an agent for its members in the negotiation of contracts and other matters related to collective bargaining. The court stressed that the union did not have the same amount of rights as a private enterprise.
In other words, their status as government employees did not afford them the luxury of abandoning their employment in the event a disagreement or dispute should arise. Nevertheless, the court recognized that the teacher’s association had the right to arbitrate with the board. In law, arbitration is a means of alternative dispute resolution, whereby the parties can come to a collective agreement and resolution without resorting to court procedure.
In summation, the teacher’s association was comprised of government employees, and therefore could not strike. However, they were entitled to organize as a labor union. This allowed the union to arbitrate, negotiate and bargain in the teachers’ best interest, so long as they did not strike.
This case was not handled by our firm. However, if you have any questions regarding this case, or any education matter, please contact Joseph Maya at 203-221-3100 or by email at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.