892 S.W.2d 428 (Tenn.App. 1994), Hamblen County Educ. Ass'n v. Hamblen County Bd. of Educ.

Citation892 S.W.2d 428
Opinion JudgeThe opinion of the court was delivered by: Susano
Party NameHAMBLEN COUNTY EDUCATION ASSOCIATION, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. The HAMBLEN COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION, Defendant-Appellee, and Wendell Francis, et al., Intervenors-Appellees.
AttorneyCharles Hampton White, Kurtis J. Winstead, Cornelius & Collins, of Nashville, for Appellant.
Case DateOctober 14, 1994
CourtCourt of Appeals of Tennessee

Page 428

892 S.W.2d 428 (Tenn.App. 1994)

HAMBLEN COUNTY EDUCATION ASSOCIATION, Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

The HAMBLEN COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION, Defendant-Appellee,

and

Wendell Francis, et al., Intervenors-Appellees.

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Eastern Section.

October 14, 1994.

Application for Permission to Appeal Denied by Supreme Court Jan. 30, 1995.

Page 429

Charles Hampton White, Kurtis J. Winstead, Cornelius & Collins, Nashville, for plaintiff-appellant.

H. Scott Reams, Taylor, Reams, Tilson & Harrison, Morristown, for defendant-appellee.

C. Dwaine Evans, Morristown, for intervenors-appellees.

OPINION

SUSANO, Judge.

This case involves a dispute between 1 The Hamblen County Board of Education (Board), and the Hamblen County Education Association (Association), the latter being the duly recognized exclusive representative of all of the Board's professional employees pursuant to the provisions of T.C.A. § 49-5-601, et seq., the Education Professional Negotiations Act (EPNA). At issue is whether an early retirement incentive program unilaterally adopted and implemented by the Board is a mandatory subject of negotiations under the provisions of T.C.A. § 49-5-611(a) 2; and whether the Board violated the EPNA when it unilaterally adopted and implemented such a program during the course of negotiations between the Board and the Association regarding a new labor agreement. The Chancellor, sitting without a jury, found that the early retirement incentive program adopted by the Board was not a mandatory subject of negotiations under T.C.A. § 49-5-611(a), and thus concluded that the Board's unilateral action in adopting the program was "a valid and binding enactment." This appeal followed. We are asked to review the Chancellor's determinations.

I

In 1978, the General Assembly enacted the EPNA. Chapter No. 570, Public Acts of 1978. The caption sets forth the thrust of the Act:

... to provide for a framework of school board-professional employee negotiations by establishing uniform and orderly methods for recognition and negotiating between professional employee organizations and boards of education; establishing unlawful acts; and remedies for violation of the act.

Page 430

Since its enactment, the EPNA has been amended 3 twice, but neither amendment is relevant to the issues before us. There are few reported appellate decisions construing the EPNA, and none which address the main subject of this litigation.

The Association is the exclusive representative of the Board's professional employees pursuant to the provisions of T.C.A. § 49-5-606. 4 In early 1992, the Board and the Association were involved in negotiations regarding a new labor contract. During these negotiations, the Board presented 5 an early retirement incentive program to the Association's negotiators. The Board subsequently withdrew its incentive proposal. Negotiations continued during the remainder of 1992. In December, 1992, the Association asked for a mediator in accordance with T.C.A. § 49-5-613. 6

On March 8, 1993, while negotiations and mediation were ongoing, the Board, at its regular meeting and over the objection of the Association, adopted a "Voluntary Professional Retirement Incentive Program" (Program) which closely resembles the early retirement incentive program the Board had offered to the Association. The Program is an offer of a cash incentive to the current employees of the Board to induce them to retire. The only employees eligible for the Program are those "currently actively employed by the school system." In order to be eligible, an employee must have ten years of service in the Hamblen County School System and must either be age 55 or older by August 15 or have thirty or more years of experience credited as service under the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System (TCRS). A teacher who wishes to accept the inducement to retire must notify the superintendent's office of that election by May 1 of the year in which that teacher expects to retire. Under the terms of the Program, such an employee will receive three cash payments of $3,000 each, paid in successive years, for a total cash inducement of $9,000 in exchange for the employee's decision to retire early. These payments are in addition to retirement benefits due under the TCRS. The Board may, at its discretion, discontinue or review the Program by the end of any year.

The Program was adopted by the Board pursuant to the authority granted in T.C.A. § 49-2-203(b)(9):

The local board of education shall have the power to:

* * * * * *

(9) Offer and pay a bonus or other monetary incentive to encourage the retirement of any teacher or other employee who is eligible to retire. For purposes of this subdivision, "local board of education" means the board of education of any county, municipal or special school system.

The authority 7 for such a program was incorporated into the powers and duties of local boards of education by Chapter 367 of the Public Acts of 1983.

Page 431

The Association responded to the Board's unilateral action by filing a Complaint and application for temporary injunction in the trial court requesting declaratory and injunctive relief under the EPNA. The Association alleged that the Board's action was a failure to negotiate on a mandatory subject of negotiations and that such failure was an unlawful act under the EPNA. The trial court denied the Association's application for a temporary injunction. This matter was subsequently heard on its merits with the result indicated earlier in this Opinion.

II

Our review of this non-jury case is de novo upon the record of the trial court, accompanied by a presumption that the trial court's findings are correct, unless the evidence preponderates against those findings. Tenn.R.App.P. 13(d). No presumption attaches to the trial court's conclusions of law. Rainey v. Stansell, 836 S.W.2d 117, 118 (Tenn.App.1992). Where, as here, the operative facts are not in dispute, the issue before us becomes a question of law for our determination. Tennessee Farmers Mut. v. American Mut., 840 S.W.2d 933, 936 (Tenn.App.1992). In a de novo review, the parties are entitled to a re-examination of the whole matter...

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30 practice notes
  • Francis v. Francis, 061801 TNCOA, M2000-01110-COA-R3-CV
    • United States
    • February 1, 2001
    ...finding on appeal without Tenn. R. App. P. 13(d)'s presumption of correctness. Hamblen County Educ. Ass'n v. Hamblen County Bd. of Educ., 892 S.W.2d 428, 431 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1994); Tennessee Farmers Mut. Ins. Co. v. American Mut. Liab. Ins. Co., 840 S.W.2d 933, 936 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1992). II......
  • 138 S.W.3d 224 (Tenn.App. 2003), M2001-02396-COA-R3, State v. Phillips
    • United States
    • Tennessee Court of Appeals of Tennessee
    • November 6, 2003
    ...Realty Shop, Inc. v. RR Westminster Holding, Inc., 7 S.W.3d at 596; Hamblen County Educ. Ass'n v. Hamblen County Bd. of Educ., 892 S.W.2d 428, 431 (Tenn.Ct.App.1994); Tennessee Farmers Mut. Ins. Co. v. American Mut. Liab. Ins. Co., 840 S.W.2d 933, 936 (Tenn.Ct.App.1992). III. PROPERTY SUBJE......
  • 914 S.W.2d 84 (Tenn.App. 1995), In re Conservatorship of Clayton
    • United States
    • Tennessee Court of Appeals of Tennessee
    • September 22, 1995
    ...Carson Creek Vacation Resorts, Inc. v. State, 865 S.W.2d 1, 2 (Tenn.1993); Hamblen County Educ. Ass'n v. Hamblen County Bd. of Educ., 892 S.W.2d 428, 432 (Tenn.Ct.App.1994). If, however, a statute is ambiguous, we may invoke the various rules of statutory construction, Stewart Title Guar. C......
  • Cannon County Bd. of Education v. Wade, 073108 TNCIV, M2006-02001-COA-R3
    • United States
    • Tennessee Court of Appeals of Tennessee
    • July 31, 2008
    ...v. Blount County Bd. of Educ., 78 S.W.3d 307, 317 n.5 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2002); Hamblen County Educ. Ass'n v. Hamblen County Bd. of Educ., 892 S.W.2d 428, 432 n. 8 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1994). [8] While the parties must negotiate grievance procedures, there is no requirement that they agree to bindi......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
30 cases
  • Francis v. Francis, 061801 TNCOA, M2000-01110-COA-R3-CV
    • United States
    • February 1, 2001
    ...finding on appeal without Tenn. R. App. P. 13(d)'s presumption of correctness. Hamblen County Educ. Ass'n v. Hamblen County Bd. of Educ., 892 S.W.2d 428, 431 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1994); Tennessee Farmers Mut. Ins. Co. v. American Mut. Liab. Ins. Co., 840 S.W.2d 933, 936 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1992). II......
  • 138 S.W.3d 224 (Tenn.App. 2003), M2001-02396-COA-R3, State v. Phillips
    • United States
    • Tennessee Court of Appeals of Tennessee
    • November 6, 2003
    ...Realty Shop, Inc. v. RR Westminster Holding, Inc., 7 S.W.3d at 596; Hamblen County Educ. Ass'n v. Hamblen County Bd. of Educ., 892 S.W.2d 428, 431 (Tenn.Ct.App.1994); Tennessee Farmers Mut. Ins. Co. v. American Mut. Liab. Ins. Co., 840 S.W.2d 933, 936 (Tenn.Ct.App.1992). III. PROPERTY SUBJE......
  • 914 S.W.2d 84 (Tenn.App. 1995), In re Conservatorship of Clayton
    • United States
    • Tennessee Court of Appeals of Tennessee
    • September 22, 1995
    ...Carson Creek Vacation Resorts, Inc. v. State, 865 S.W.2d 1, 2 (Tenn.1993); Hamblen County Educ. Ass'n v. Hamblen County Bd. of Educ., 892 S.W.2d 428, 432 (Tenn.Ct.App.1994). If, however, a statute is ambiguous, we may invoke the various rules of statutory construction, Stewart Title Guar. C......
  • Cannon County Bd. of Education v. Wade, 073108 TNCIV, M2006-02001-COA-R3
    • United States
    • Tennessee Court of Appeals of Tennessee
    • July 31, 2008
    ...v. Blount County Bd. of Educ., 78 S.W.3d 307, 317 n.5 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2002); Hamblen County Educ. Ass'n v. Hamblen County Bd. of Educ., 892 S.W.2d 428, 432 n. 8 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1994). [8] While the parties must negotiate grievance procedures, there is no requirement that they agree to bindi......
  • Request a trial to view additional results