The Vermont Statutes Online
- Subchapter 001: GENERAL PROVISIONS
§ 1981. Definitions
As used in this chapter unless the context requires otherwise:
(1) "Administrator" means any person so licensed by the Vermont Standards Board for professional educators, the majority of whose employed time in a school or a school district is devoted to serving as superintendent, assistant superintendent, assistant to the superintendent, supervisor, principal, or assistant principal.
(2) "Professional negotiations" means the meeting, conferring, consulting, discussing, and negotiating in good faith between a school board negotiations council and a teachers' organization negotiations council or an administrators' organization negotiations council to reach agreement.
(3) "School board" means the board of school directors of a school district or its equivalent in any independent elementary or secondary school.
(4) "School district" means any public school district or any independent elementary or secondary school within the State that directly or indirectly receives support from public funds.
(5) "Teacher" means any person licensed employable as a teacher by the Vermont Standards Board for Professional Educators who is not an administrator as herein defined.
(6) A "teachers' organization" or an "administrators' organization" means an organization, committee, council, group, or separate unit thereof in which teachers or administrators participate and that exists, in whole or in part, for the purpose of professional negotiation.
(7) "Agency fee" means a fee deducted by an employer from the salary or wages of an employee who is not a member of an employee organization, which is paid to the employee organization that is the exclusive bargaining agent for the bargaining unit of the employee. The agency fee shall not exceed 85 percent of the amount payable as dues by members of the employee organization and shall be deducted in the same manner as dues are deducted from the salary or wages of members of the employee organization and shall be used to defray the costs of chargeable activities.
(8) "School board negotiations council" means, for a supervisory district, its school board, and, for school districts within a supervisory union, the body comprising representatives designated by each school board within the supervisory union and by the supervisory union board to engage in professional negotiations with a teachers' or administrators' organization.
(9) "Teachers' organization negotiations council" or "administrators' organization negotiations council" means the body comprising representatives designated by each teachers' organization or administrators' organization within a supervisory district or supervisory union to act as its representative for professional negotiations. (Added 1969, No. 127, § 2, eff. Sept. 1, 1969; amended 1989, No. 118, § 3; 1991, No. 24, § 11; 2005, No. 25, § 1; 2005, No. 214 (Adj. Sess.), § 4; eff. July 1, 2007; 2007, No. 82, § 29; 2009, No. 153 (Adj. Sess.), § 13; 2013, No. 37, § 10; 2013, No. 56, § 24, eff. May 30, 2013; 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 304, eff. Feb. 14, 2014; 2017, No. 74, § 22.)
§ 1982. Rights
(a) Teachers shall have the right to or not to join, assist, or participate in any teachers' organization of their choosing. However, teachers who choose not to join the teachers' organization, recognized as the exclusive representative pursuant to section 1992 of this chapter, shall pay the agency fee in the same manner as teachers who choose to join the teachers' organization pay membership fees. The teachers' organization shall indemnify and hold the school board harmless from any and all claims stemming from the implementation or administration of the agency fee.
(b) Principals, assistant principals, and administrators other than superintendent and assistant superintendent shall have the right to or not to join, assist, or participate in any administrators' organization or as a separate unit of any teachers' organization of their choosing. However, subject to the provisions of subsection (d) of this section, administrators other than the superintendent and assistant superintendent who choose not to join the administrators' organization, recognized as the exclusive representative pursuant to section 1992 of this chapter, shall pay the agency fee in the same manner as administrators who choose to join the administrators' organization pay membership fees. The administrators' organization agrees to indemnify and hold the school harmless from any and all claims stemming from the implementation or administration of the agency fee.
(c) The school board or any employee of the school board serving in any capacity or any other person or organization shall not interfere with, restrain, coerce, or discriminate in any way against or for any teacher or administrator engaged in activities protected by this legislation.
(d) A teachers' or administrators' organization shall not charge the agency fee unless it has established and maintained a procedure to provide nonmembers with:
(1) An audited financial statement that identifies the major categories of expenses and divides them into chargeable and nonchargeable expenses.
(2) An opportunity to object to the amount of the agency fee sought, and to place in escrow any amount reasonably in dispute.
(3) Prompt arbitration by an arbitrator selected jointly by the objecting fee payer and the teachers' or administrators' organization or pursuant to the rules of the American Arbitration Association to resolve any objection over the amount of the agency fee. The costs of arbitration shall be paid by the teachers' or administrators' organization.
(e) Nothing in this section shall require an employer to discharge an employee who does not pay the agency fee. (Added 1969, No. 127, § 2, eff. Sept. 1, 1969; amended 2005, No. 25, § 2; 2013, No. 37, § 11.)
§ 1983. Right to be heard
Nothing in this chapter shall prohibit any individual or organization representative, subject to reasonable rules of procedure that may be adopted by the school board, from appearing before the school board to be heard, but not to negotiate, on any matters of school district operation. (Added 1969, No. 127, § 2, eff. Sept. 1, 1969; amended 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 174, eff. Feb. 14, 2014.)
- Subchapter 002: BARGAINING AGENT
§ 1991. Selection of representation
(a) Teachers and administrators may select organizations to represent them on their negotiations council in collective negotiations with the school board negotiations council. The school board shall recognize an organization as the exclusive representative of the teachers or of the administrators in the school district when that organization has proved its claim to sole and exclusive representative status of the respective group as provided in this chapter. The superintendent, the assistant superintendent, and the principal shall not serve as negotiating agents for the teachers' organization.
(b) When close or disputed questions of eligibility to vote and inclusion in the unit to be represented by the teachers' organization arise, the general principle to be adhered to shall be that eligibility to vote and inclusion in that negotiating unit will be limited to all teachers in the school district under contract and actually engaged in full-time or part-time positions that are not that of administrator.
(c) The organizations selected to represent teachers or administrators shall represent without discrimination or prejudice all of those eligible for inclusion in the negotiating unit without regard to organizational affiliation or membership. (Added 1969, No. 127, § 2, eff. Sept. 1, 1969; amended 2007, No. 82, § 30; 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 175, eff. Feb. 14, 2014.)
§ 1992. Referendum procedure for representation
(a) An organization purporting to represent a majority of all of the teachers or administrators employed by the school board may be recognized by the school board without the necessity of a referendum upon the submission of a petition bearing the valid signatures of a majority of the teachers or administrators employed by that school board. Within 15 days after receiving the petition the school board shall notify the teachers or administrators of the school district in writing of its intention to either require or waive a secret ballot referendum. If the school board gives notice of its intention to waive a referendum and recognize an organization, 10 percent of the teachers or administrators employed by the school board may submit a petition within 15 days thereafter, objecting to the granting or recognition without a referendum, in which event a secret ballot referendum shall be held in the district for the purpose of choosing an exclusive representative according to the guidelines for referendum contained in this legislation.
(b) Recognition granted to a negotiating unit as exclusive representative shall be valid and not subject to challenge by referendum petition or otherwise for the remainder of the fiscal year in which recognition is granted and for an additional period of 12 months after final adoption of the budget for the succeeding fiscal year and shall continue thereafter until a new referendum is called for.
(c) A secret ballot referendum shall be held any time that 20 percent of the teachers or administrators employed by the school board present a petition requesting a referendum on the matter of representation, except during a period of prior recognition, as hereinbefore provided. Any organization interested in representing teachers or administrators in the school district shall have the right to appear on the ballot by submitting a petition supported by ten percent or more of the teachers or administrators in the school district.
(d) In the interest of expediting the referendum and minimizing the cost thereof, the petitioning party or parties and the school board may agree together to conduct cooperatively the referendum themselves. Alternatively, the parties may select an impartial person or agency to conduct or aid in the conducting of the referendum. Failing agreement among all interested parties on the conduct of the referendum, any of the petitioning parties or the school board may request that the referendum be conducted with the aid and assistance of the American Arbitration Association or its designee. The American Arbitration Association or its designee shall have the responsibility for making decisions on any and all matters in dispute regarding the mechanics of the referendum, eligibility and other necessary decisions relating to the conduct of the referendum.
(e) All costs incurred in conducting the referendum shall be borne jointly by the school board and the petitioners.
(f) The ballot used in any referendum shall include "no representation" among the choices. The organization designated by the majority of the votes cast shall be the negotiating representative. If the majority is "no representation," then the school board may not recognize any representative for at least 12 months thereafter. If no choice receives a majority vote, then a run-off referendum shall be conducted among the two choices receiving the greatest number of votes. (Added 1969, No. 127, § 2, eff. Sept. 1, 1969.)
- Subchapter 003: NEGOTIATIONS
§ 2001. Good faith
The negotiations councils of the school board and of the recognized teachers' or administrators' organization shall meet together at reasonable times, upon request of either party, and shall negotiate in good faith on all matters properly before them under the provisions of this chapter. (Added 1969, No. 127, § 2, eff. Sept. 1, 1969; amended 2007, No. 82, § 31.)
§ 2002. Access to materials and facilities
The school board shall permit teachers, administrators, and their respective organizations access at reasonable times to areas in which teachers and administrators work, and to use institutional bulletin boards, mail boxes, or other communication media subject to reasonable regulation by the school board, and to use school facilities at reasonable times for the purpose of meetings concerned with the exercise of rights guaranteed by this chapter. (Added 1969, No. 127, § 2, eff. Sept. 1, 1969.)
§ 2003. Time to begin
The teacher or administrator organizations holding exclusive negotiating rights shall make a request for commencement of negotiations either to their school board or to the school board negotiations council no later than 120 days prior to the earliest school district annual meeting conducted within the supervisory union. (Added 1969, No. 127, § 2, eff. Sept. 1, 1969; amended 2007, No. 82, § 32.)
§ 2004. Agenda
The school board, through its negotiations council, shall, upon request, negotiate with representatives of the teachers' or administrators' organization negotiations council on matters of salary, related economic conditions of employment, the manner in which it will enforce an employee's obligation to pay the agency fee, procedures for processing complaints and grievances relating to employment, and any mutually agreed upon matters not in conflict with the statutes and laws of the State of Vermont. (Added 1969, No. 127, § 2, eff. Sept. 1, 1969; amended 2005, No. 25, § 3; 2007, No. 82, § 33; 2013, No. 37, § 12; 2017, No. 74, § 23.)
§ 2005. Written agreement
The negotiations councils for the school board and the teachers' or administrators' organization shall enter into a written agreement or agreements incorporating therein matters agreed to in negotiation. (Added 1969, No. 127, § 2, eff. Sept. 1, 1969; amended 2007, No. 82, § 34.)
§ 2006. Mediator
If, after negotiation has taken place on all matters properly before them, the negotiations councils for the school board and teachers' or administrators' organization are unable to reach agreement on specific negotiable items, they may jointly agree upon the services and person of a mediator for the purpose of assisting them in reconciling their differences and resolving the controversy on terms that are mutually acceptable. If agreement cannot be reached upon the person of a mediator, either party may request mediation upon any and all unresolved issues to be conducted by the American Arbitration Association or its designee. The parties shall meet with the mediator and make such information available as required. (Added 1969, No. 127, § 2, eff. Sept. 1, 1969; amended 2007, No. 82, § 35.)
§ 2007. Fact-finding committee
(a) If mediation fails to resolve outstanding differences or is not requested and a continuing disagreement persists, either party may, after negotiation on all matters properly before them, request that any or all unresolved issues be submitted to a fact-finding committee by notifying the other party of their intention and setting forth in writing the issues to be submitted to fact-finding.
(b) The fact-finding committee, which shall be activated as soon as practicable upon request, shall be composed of one member selected by the school board negotiations council, one member selected by the negotiations council for the teachers' or administrators' organization, and one member who shall serve as chair, to be chosen by the other two members. In the event that agreement cannot be reached on a third member for the fact-finding committee, the American Arbitration Association shall be asked to appoint the third member.
(c) The fact-finding committee shall convene as soon as practicable after its appointment, hold informal hearings as necessary, and provide adequate opportunity to all parties to testify fully on, and present evidence regarding, their respective positions. All parties to the dispute shall furnish the fact-finding committee upon its request all records, papers, and information in their possession pertaining to any matter properly in issue before the fact-finding committee. The fact-finding committee shall make a written report and shall deliver it to both parties recommending a reasonable basis for the settlement of the disagreement within 30 days after the appointment of all members of the committee.
(d) The report of the fact-finding committee shall be advisory only and shall not be binding on either party. The report shall be made public by the fact-finding committee if the issues in dispute have not been resolved within ten days of the delivery of the report.
(e) All expenses of fact-finding and mediation shall be borne jointly by the parties to the dispute. (Added 1969, No. 127, § 2, eff. Sept. 1, 1969; amended 2007, No. 82, § 36.)
§ 2008. Finality of decisions
All decisions of the school board regarding matters in dispute in negotiations shall, after full compliance with this chapter, be final. (Added 1969, No. 127, § 2, eff. Sept. 1, 1969.)
§ 2009. Delegation of authority
The negotiations councils for school boards and for teachers' and administrators' organizations are empowered to delegate in whole or in part the responsibility for negotiation of the collective agreement to any persons they may choose. However, final ratification of any agreement on behalf of a school board shall remain the sole responsibility of the school board, unless the school board has agreed to binding interest arbitration pursuant to subchapter 4 of this chapter. (Added 1969, No. 127, § 2, eff. Sept. 1, 1969; amended 1991, No. 196 (Adj. Sess.), § 3; 2007, No. 82, § 37.)
§ 2010. Injunctions
No restraining order or temporary or permanent injunction shall be granted in any case brought with respect to any action taken by a representative organization or an official thereof or by a school board or representative thereof in connection with or relating to pending or future negotiations, except on the basis of findings of fact made by a court of competent jurisdiction after due hearing prior to the issuance of the restraining order or injunction that the commencement or continuance of the action poses a clear and present danger to a sound program of school education that in the light of all relevant circumstances it is in the best public interest to prevent. Any restraining order or injunction issued by a court as herein provided shall prohibit only a specific act or acts expressly determined in the findings of fact to pose a clear and present danger. (Added 1969, No. 127, § 2, eff. Sept. 1, 1969.)
- Subchapter 004: BINDING INTEREST ARBITRATION
§ 2021. Negotiated binding interest arbitration
(a) Arbitration shall only occur if the recognized organization and one or more of the school boards agree in writing to submit to binding arbitration for one or more issues remaining in dispute. An agreement to accept binding interest arbitration may not be revoked and shall apply only to the parties to the arbitration.
(b) The parties may mutually agree to accept binding interest arbitration at any time after impasse is reached. If the parties have neither accepted all recommendations of a fact-finder nor reached an independent agreement on all issues in dispute, either the school board or the recognized organization may request binding interest arbitration by written notice to the other party. The parties shall mutually agree on one of the following limitations on the jurisdiction of the arbitrator:
(1) Arbitration under which the award is confined to a choice between one of the following single packages:
(A) The last best offer of the school board.
(B) The last best offer of the recognized organization.
(2) Arbitration under which the award is confined to a choice between one of the following on an issue-by-issue basis:
(A) The last best offer of the school board.
(B) The last best offer of the recognized organization.
(c) A strike, which shall have the same meaning as provided in 21 V.S.A. § 1722(16), shall be prohibited if it occurs after both parties have voluntarily submitted a dispute to final and binding arbitration or after a decision or award has been issued by the arbitrator. A school board may petition for an injunction or other appropriate relief from the Superior Court within the county wherein such strike in violation of this section is occurring or is about to occur.
(d) If any provision of this subchapter is inconsistent with any other provision of law governing arbitration, this subchapter shall govern. (Added 1991, No. 196 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 2007, No. 82, § 38.)
§ 2022. Selection and decision of arbitrator
(a) When arbitration has been invoked in accordance with this subchapter, the parties shall within five days mutually select a single arbitrator and each party shall state its final offer on all disputed issues. If the parties fail to select an arbitrator within five days, they shall request the services of the American Arbitration Association for the appointment of an arbitrator.
(b) Within 90 days after the appointment of the arbitrator or another period of time agreed upon by the parties, he or she shall hold a hearing and shall decide all disputed issues within his or her jurisdiction as defined by this chapter, and this award shall become an agreement of the parties. (Added 1991, No. 196 (Adj. Sess.), § 1.)
§ 2023. Jurisdiction of arbitrator
(a) The parties may reach partial agreement on some issues or accept a fact-finder's recommendations on some issues. The arbitrator shall have the power to determine all issues remaining in dispute involving wages, hours and conditions of employment as defined by this chapter and any other mutually agreed upon matters not in conflict with law.
(b) At any time prior to the issuance of a decision by the arbitrator, the parties may jointly file with the arbitrator any stipulations setting forth contract provisions which both parties agree to accept. The parties shall submit to the arbitrator their respective positions on all issues in dispute between them in the form of a last best offer.
(c) The arbitrator shall resolve all remaining disputed issues in his or her jurisdiction in accordance with the agreement of the parties. The arbitrator shall incorporate in a written decision the resolution of each disputed issue and an explanation of how the total cost of all offers was considered. (Added 1991, No. 196 (Adj. Sess.), § 1.)
§ 2024. Judicial appeal
Upon application of a party, a Superior Court shall vacate an award on the same grounds as set forth in 21 V.S.A. § 1733(d) and according to the same procedures as set forth in 21 V.S.A. § 1733(e). (Added 1991, No. 196 (Adj. Sess.), § 1.)
§ 2025. Factors to be considered by arbitrator
(a) At the hearing, each party shall have full opportunity to submit all relevant evidence, to introduce relevant documents and written material, and to argue on behalf of its positions. At the hearing, both parties may present evidence regarding the financial capacity of the school district. The arbitrator shall preside over such hearing.
(b) In reaching a decision, the arbitrator shall give weight to the factors listed in subsection (a) of this section, plus the following factors:
(1) the lawful authority of the school board;
(2) stipulations of the parties;
(3) the interest and welfare of the public and the financial ability of the school board to pay for increased costs of public services including the cost of labor;
(4) comparisons of the wages, hours, and conditions of employment of the employees involved in the dispute with the wages, hours, and conditions of employment of other employees performing similar services in public schools in comparable communities or in private employment in comparable communities;
(5) the average consumer prices for goods and services commonly known as the cost of living;
(6) the overall compensation presently received by the employees including direct wages, fringe benefits, and continuity conditions and stability of employment, and all other benefits received;
(7) prior negotiations and existing conditions of other school and municipal employees. (Added 1991, No. 196 (Adj. Sess.), § 1.)
§ 2026. Notice of award
The arbitrator shall file one copy of the decision with each city or town clerk in the school district involved, the school board, and the recognized organization. The decision of the arbitrator shall be final and binding upon the parties to the dispute. (Added 1991, No. 196 (Adj. Sess.), § 1.)
§ 2027. Fees and expenses
The parties shall share equally the fee of the arbitrator and all other mutually incurred costs incidental to the arbitration. (Added 1991, No. 196 (Adj. Sess.), § 1.)
§ 2028. Contract ratification annual vote
Annually, the employees of the bargaining unit shall meet and discuss whether employees who have chosen not to join the employee organization shall be allowed to vote on the ratification of any collective bargaining agreement entered into pursuant to this chapter. After discussion, employees who are members of the employee organization shall vote on whether to allow employees who have chosen not to join the employee organization to vote on the ratification of any collective bargaining agreement. (Added 2013, No. 37, § 13a.)