Minnesota readers may be aware that many public school educators belong to a union, which negotiates with a school district on behalf of union members. Once agreement over employment terms is reached, the union may enter into a collective bargaining agreement with a school district. That CBA then functions as a binding employment contract between the district and the union members. In the case of disagreement, many CBAs require the parties to participate in arbitration.
A disagreement recently arose between a Woodbury principal and her school district. The principal claims that the district didn’t abide by some of the terms of a union contract, entered into between the district and the South Washington County Principals Association. Specifically, the principal alleges that district officials overpaid a new principal, in violation of the salary terms set forth in the union contract. The principal has filed a motion in a lower court, requesting arbitration.
Minnesota readers may not be familiar with arbitration. The process should not be confused with a court proceeding. Rather, it is a private form of alternative dispute resolution, whereby an arbitrator hears from the parties before issuing a legally binding decision. The process is usually cheaper and more informal than a court proceeding, although parties are often permitted to be represented by counsel at arbitration hearings. In the event a party wants to appeal an arbitrator’s decision, many CBAs provide for an appeals process in state court.
The district has acknowledged the pay discrepancy, but asserted that the union contract does not apply to the other principal because he was hired in a temporary or interim position. Instead, district officials created an independent contractor for the interim principal.
Source: twincities.com, “Woodbury principal asks court to settle pay dispute,” Elizabeth Mohr, March 22, 2013.