Kansas Department of Labor rules Shawnee Mission 3-year unilateral contract was impermissible

Shawnee Mission teachers have packed the board chambers in recent months to voice their objection to the district's stance in contract negotiations. On Friday, the Department of Labor announced the district had engaged in prohibited practice by issuing a three-year unilateral contract.

The Kansas Department of Labor has issued a ruling on a prohibited practice complaint brought by the Shawnee Mission teachers union, determining that the Shawnee Mission School District Board of Education is not permitted to adopt a unilateral contract that spans three years.

On Friday, the labor department ruled in favor of the National Education Association-Shawnee Mission, saying that setting a unilateral contract is OK for only the 2019-20 school year, but not for the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years.

The National Education Association-Shawnee Mission had filed an emergency prohibited practice complaint with the state department of labor, claiming the district did not have the legal authority to issue a unilateral contract for three years.

In a statement released late Friday afternoon, NEA Shawnee Mission President Linda Seick said the ruling “presents a real opportunity for teachers, but also for the district to heal and move forward in the best interest of students.” The union’s full statement is below:

“The Kansas Department of Labor has ruled that the Shawnee Mission School District did commit a prohibited labor practice in issuing a multi-year unilateral contract to the district’s teachers. For those bargaining unit members who elected to accept the unilateral contract, it will remain in effect only for the 2019-2020 school year.

“As a result of this ruling, the district must choose a new course of action, and it is the hope of NEA Shawnee Mission that the district would join with us and resume negotiations in order to reach an agreement. We believe that students, teachers, and our community stakeholders have an opportunity to repair and grow stronger with the district after today’s ruling.

“NEA Shawnee Mission President, Linda Seick has stated her belief that today’s ruling presents a real opportunity for teachers but also for the district to heal and move forward in the best interest of students, ‘we’re encouraged by today’s ruling, but it really represents an opportunity for the district to show that it does respect the people who work most closely with our students every day. In doing so, the district can also demonstrate that it respects our students who learn best when their teachers have the time and tools necessary to teach.'”

The Shawnee Mission School District released its own statement, saying it disagreed with the department’s ruling. Below is a copy of the district’s full statement:

Today the Kansas Department of Labor ruled that years two and three of the unilateral three-year contract were a prohibited practice. While the district disagrees with the decision, we remain committed to working with NEA-SM to resolve the matter of future compensation, benefits, and working conditions. As such, the district has reached out to KNEA to discuss the decision and will work to identify next steps. The district continues to believe it is essential to reach agreement on a contract that is in the best interest of teachers and is fiscally responsible.

Below is a copy of the ruling:
[gview file=”https://shawneemissionpost.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Secretary-of-Labors-Determination-and-Final-Order-in-72-CAE-4-2020.pdf”]