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A Better Partnership
July 30, 2015

COA holds that PERA prohibits an employer from collective bargaining over any decision with regard to teacher placement

In Ionia Public Schools v. Ionia Education Association, No. 321728, the Michigan Court of Appeals concluded that, under the Public Employee Relations Act (PERA), MCL 423.201 et seq., teacher placement is a “prohibited subject of bargaining” with regard to collective bargaining. 
The Ionia Education Association filed an unfair labor practice charge against Ionia Public Schools in July 2012, citing the failure to hold a bid-bump meeting as set forth in the collective bargaining agreement (CBA). For approximately 27 years, Ionia Public Schools had employed “bid-bump” meetings to allow teachers to bid on open positions. 2011 PA 103, which became effective July 2011, added several subjects that were prohibited from collective bargaining, including MCL 423.215(3)(J) which prohibits bargaining with regard to: “[a]ny decision made by the public school employer regarding teacher placement, or the impact of that decision on an individual employee or the bargaining unit." 
The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) issued a recommended decision and order dismissing the unfair labor practice charge, and denied the Association's request for an evidentiary hearing. The Association filed exceptions to the ALJ actions. The Michigan Employment Relations Commission (MERC) rejected Association's exceptions and found that the ALJ did not err in its interpretation of the statute. The Association appealed as of right the order of the MERC dismissing its unfair labor practice charge against Ionia Public Schools.
The Court of Appeals affirmed MERC’s decision, reasoning that the plain meaning and broad language of MCL 423.215(3)(J) reflected the Legislature’s intent to prohibit an employer from bargaining over any decision, including policies or procedures such as the bid-bump procedure, with regard to teacher placement. In addition, the Court of Appeals held that MERC did not abuse its discretion in failing to hold oral argument or an evidentiary hearing.

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