Norwalk Teachers' Association v. Board of Education
138 Conn,269, 83 A.2d 482, 1951
- Facts : Plaintiff (Teachers' Assn.)
is suing Board for a Declaratory judgement. Dispute over salaries began in April 1946 and, after long negotiations, 230 of the 300 teachers rejected the Board's offer. Later they agreed on a contract. Difficult personnel relations continued to exist between the Board and the Association with strikes, work stoppages, discharges, and suspensions being threatened. But, during the 1950-1951 school year, they petitioned the Court for clarification of rights, privileges, duties, and immunities. The court action would then govern the actions of the parties.
- Issue: Do teachers have the right to organize and/or strike? May the Board recognize the Association as the bargaining agent? Are arbitration or mediation acceptable methods?
- Decision: In the absence of prohibitory statute or regulation, no good reason appears why public employees should not organize as a labor, and conduct negotiations with the Board. But, if the organization is for the purpose of demanding recognition and collective bargaining, demands must be kept within legal bounds. Mediation is not only permissible but desirable; arbitration is permissible in certain disputes.
- Government is established by and run for all people, not for the benefit of any person or group. The strike is contravention of this principle. The interest of the public is paramount and that a strike by public employees is in effect a strike against the government and hence is against public policy.
- In some states, the right to organize is forbidden. Connecticut has no statute on the subject. Union organization is now the rule, not the exception.
- Plaintiff may organize and bargain collectively for the pay and working conditions which it may be in the power of the Board to grant.
- The Board has the authority to determine how negotiations will be conducted.
- Arbitration is growing in importance as a method of settling disputes.
- Evaluation: So to summarize the decision, the court gave a definite no, that even in the absence of statutes prohibiting strikes, the court held that public employees may not strike.
- This was a unanimous opinion.
- No court costs were assessed in this case.
Corkill, Phillip. The Law and American Education. Tucson, Arizona. 1991 (Lecture presented at the Flowing Wells School District Administrative Office).
Important Landmark Cases in Educational Law