School board OKs bargaining accord with Mehlville NEA

School board can’t ‘unilaterally change’ policies referred to in new agreement.


A bargaining agreement between the Mehlville Board of Education and the Mehlville National Education Association was unanimously approved last week by the board.

The board voted 6-0 on Feb. 10 to approve the bargaining agreement, which provides a framework for annual negotiations between the board and teachers.

“It means a lot to have a group that cares about its employees,” MNEA President Karen Torretta told the Call of the board’s decision. “I’m thrilled that we were able to come together.”

Board and teacher negotiating teams have been meeting over the course of the past year to develop the agreement, according to Lisa Counts, assistant superintendent-human resources. As approved, the agreement would be effective July 1, 2010, through June 30, 2011.

The agreement recognizes the MNEA as the “initial representative” for the bargaining unit consisting of “all regular, full and part-time professional teaching staff.”

An election will be conducted during the 2010-2011 school year “to determine the sole and exclusive bargaining representative organization” for teachers, according to the agreement.

The agreement references more than two dozen board policies and procedures relating to association rights; pay and benefits; leave; employee rights; and working conditions.

Except in the case of an emergency, the agreement “shall constitute a binding obligation of both the district and the association” and “may be altered, changed, added to, deleted from or modified only through the voluntary, mutual consent of these parties …

“The board shall not unilaterally change the policies to which this document refers.”

Under the article on bargaining procedures, the agreement states, “The parties recognize that final authority to accept, reject or modify any proposal or agreement rests with the board.”

Counts told the board last week, “I think two key points to note as we look at this: the Board of Education still has final authority to accept, reject or modify any proposal or agreement and that is stated in this agreement … Also, this is a one-year agreement and each year it will be reviewed and revised as agreed upon by both teams.”

Board member Erin Weber noted during last week’s meeting that besides extensive meetings between board and MNEA negotiating teams, district and Missouri School Boards’ Association attorneys have reviewed the agreement.

“They’ve all had in mind that the board is not giving up any power, that in the end we still have the final say,” Weber said.

Superintendent Terry Noble told the Call that the board has “final authority with regard to the negotiated agreement.”

“This means, in case of an impasse, the board has final authority to accept or reject the agreement at the time it is being considered for approval,” he stated. “Once the board accepts the agreement, however, there is no change to the agreement — or to the relevant policies — for the length of term of the agreement — one year — without consent of MNEA, except as permitted by the emergency clause.”