Aberdeen Ed. Ass'n v. Aberdeen Bd. of Ed., Aberdeen Independent School Dist., No. 11225

CourtSupreme Court of South Dakota
Writing for the CourtWINANS; DUNN; BIEGELMEIER, C.J., and WOLLMAN; DOYLE; BIEGELMEIER; Winans'; WOLLMAN; DOYLE
Citation88 S.D. 127,215 N.W.2d 837
Parties, 85 L.R.R.M. (BNA) 2801, 73 Lab.Cas. P 53,284 ABERDEEN EDUCATION ASSOCIATION, Plaintiff and Appellant, v. ABERDEEN BOARD OF EDUCATION, ABERDEEN INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT, a Political Subdivision of the State of South Dakota, Defendant and Respondent.
Decision Date19 March 1974
Docket NumberNo. 11225

Page 837

215 N.W.2d 837
88 S.D. 127, 85 L.R.R.M. (BNA) 2801,
73 Lab.Cas. P 53,284
ABERDEEN EDUCATION ASSOCIATION, Plaintiff and Appellant,
v.
ABERDEEN BOARD OF EDUCATION, ABERDEEN INDEPENDENT SCHOOL
DISTRICT, a Political Subdivision of the State of
South Dakota, Defendant and Respondent.
No. 11225.
Supreme Court of South Dakota.
March 19, 1974.

[88 S.D. 128]

Page 838

Maloney, Kolker, Kolker & Fritz, Dennis Maloney, Aberdeen, for plaintiff-appellant.

Siegel, Barnett, Schutz, O'Keefe & Ogborn, Terence A. O'Keefe, Aberdeen, for defendant-respondent.

WINANS, Justice.

In this opinion we refer to the plaintiff as 'Association' and the defendant as 'Board'. This is an action brought by the Association against the Board seeking a declaratory judgment. The parties have stipulated to the facts. The complaint asked that the following items be declared subject to negotiation for an agreement to cover the 1972--73 school year: (1) elementary conferences, (2) teachers' aides, (3) elementary planning, (4) class size, (5) audio-visual expansion, (6) budget allowances, (7) school-wide guidance and counseling program, and (8) mandatory retirement of administrators. The Board, through its answer, affirmatively alleged that SDCL 3--18 is unconstitutional, and that even if SDCL 3--18 is constitutional, the eight items mentioned are not proper subjects of negotiation under the provisions of that chapter. It is the contention of the Association that the items relate to 'other conditions of employment' and are therefore proper subjects of negotiation.

The constitutionality issue framed by the pleadings was thereafter neither argued nor briefed by either of the parties. This court will not pass on the constitutional issues or questions if the merits of the case may otherwise be decided. House of Seagram, [88 S.D. 129] Inc. v. Assam Drug Co., 83 S.D. 320, 159 N.W.2d 210. We have also held that no statute should be held unconstitutional unless its infraction of constitutional principles is so plain and palpable as to admit of no reasonable doubt. Application of Nelson, 83 S.D. 611, 163 N.W.2d 533.

In Head v. Special School District No. 1, 288 Minn. 496, 182 N.W.2d 887, we find their court saying:

'In our consideration of whether these statutes are constitutional or not, we start with the principle that a law must be sustained unless unconstitutional beyond a reasonable doubt. Laws are held constitutional if reasonably possible. The power of the courts to hold the law unconstitutional is exercised only when absolutely necessary, and then, with extreme caution. If the language of the law can be given two constructions, one constitutional and the other unconstitutional, the constitutional one must be adopted, though the unconstitutional construction may be more natural. A law may not be declared unconstitutional merely because the court believes it is bad policy or bad economics.'

We do not decide this case on constitutional grounds, nor foreclose the issue nor intimate what our views might be when it

Page 839

is properly before us for decision. 1 The sole question for our determination is whether the trial court erred in determining that the above items are not proper subjects of negotiation under SDCL 3--18 and that the Board was entitled to judgment dismissing the complaint. We affirm the lower court's holding.

The authorization for negotiation between public employees [88 S.D. 130] and public employers is contained in the Public Employees' Unions Law, SDCL 3--18. Sec. 3--18--1 defines a public employee as any person 'holding a position by appointment or employment in the government of the State of South Dakota or in the government of any one or more of the political subdivisions thereof, or in the service of the public schools, * * *'. It is stipulated that plaintiff is the bargaining association on behalf of the 'classroom teachers, nurses and counselors employed by Defendant', and has negotiated with the defendant 'for the past three years and specifically for the school year 1972--73'. Sec. 3--18--3 of the act provides in part:

'Representatives designated or selected for the purpose of formal representation by the majority of the employees in a unit appropriate for such purposes shall be the exclusive representatives of all employees in such unit for the purpose of representation in respect to rates of pay, wages, hours of employment, or other conditions of employment; * * *.'

It is the last phrase quoted above, 'other conditions of employment', which gives rise to the present controversy. In Westinghouse Electric Corporation v. N.L.R.B., 1967, 4 Cir., 387 F.2d 542, the court had before it the question of whether increases in food prices (a penny for carry-out coffee and five cents for hot food entrees) established by an independent contractor operating cafeterias in Westinghouse plants was a mandatory subject for collective bargaining between Westinghouse Electric Corp. and Salaried Employees Association, a union representing some of the Westinghouse employees. A majority of the N.L.R.B. held that cafeteria prices were "conditions of employment' and a mandatory subject of bargaining'. In effect the N.L.R.B. held that the statutory wording, 'terms and conditions of employment', was intended by Congress to be used in its "broadest sense' and encompasses virtually everything which bears on the employment relationship and to which workers seek management's agreement.' The court held, however, that 'At best, the history merely shows that Congress did not desire to enumerate specific bargaining subjects; it does not show that the phrase was meant to embrace every issue that might be of interest to unions or employers.' The court held:

[88 S.D. 131] 'In the view of the majority of this court, it was not the intent of Congress in enacting the National Labor Relations Act to sweep every act by every employer within the ambit of 'conditions of employment.' The dissenting members of the Board pointed out, in effect, that equating the trifles here involved with subjects such as wages, hours, working conditions, job security, pensions, insurance, choice of bargaining representatives or other subjects directly and materially affecting 'conditions of employment' is sheer nonsense. Efforts to apply a theory such as the Board adopted in Weyerhaeuser to clearly inappropriate situations should be discouraged where the reasons for such attempted application

Page 840

are, as charged by the petitioner, absurd and mischievous. Balanced and effective collective bargaining should be the ultimate objective. The statutory purpose may best be served by formulating and applying a reasonable concept of 'conditions of employment' in determining subjects of mandatory bargaining. We find in this case no condition of employment which is a subject of mandatory bargaining.'

Other courts interpreting the same phrase have reached conclusions that employers are not required to negotiate every item affecting employment. The following is a list taken from the Attorney General's Report, 1971--72, at page 184:

'McCall Corporation v. N.L.R.B. (4th Circuit, 1970) 432 F.2d 187 (Food prices where employer had total control of food service) Seattle 1st National Bank v. N.L.R.B. (9th Circuit, 1970) 444 F.2d 30 (investment services provided to employees); District 50, United Mines Workers, Local 13942 v. N.L.R.B. (4th Circuit, 1966) 358 F.2d 234 (employer's decision to contract work out); and N.L.R.B. v. King Radio Corp. (10th Circuit, 1969) 416 F.2d 569 (contracting out bargaining unit's work). In each of these cases, the court held that the employers did not have to negotiate the working conditions as they were not Material working conditions.'

[88 S.D. 132] The Legislature has the duty to establish and maintain public schools and to secure to the people the advantages and opportunities of education. Art. VIII, § 1, South Dakota Constitution. They have delegated a part of this authority which they have to school boards, giving them general powers. SDCL 13--8--39. Throughout the Code there are many other delegations of power by the Legislature in the management of the school system. In Wichita Public Schools Employees Union Local 513 v. Smith, 1964, 194 Kan. 2, 397 P.2d 357, the Supreme Court of Kansas said:

'The entire matter of qualifications,...

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23 practice notes
  • Canton Lutheran Church v. SOVIK, MATHRE, ETC., Civ. No. 79-4068.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. District of South Dakota
    • February 13, 1981
    ...This is also the policy of the South Dakota Supreme Court. Aberdeen Educational Assn. v. Aberdeen Board 507 F. Supp. 878 of Education, 215 N.W.2d 837 (S.D.1974); House of Seagrams, Inc. v. Assam Drug Co., 83 S.D. 320, 159 N.W.2d 210 (1968). This court must therefore carefully examine the is......
  • Montgomery County Educ. Ass'n, Inc. v. Board of Educ. of Montgomery County, No. 57
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Maryland
    • December 28, 1987
    ...Bd. v. State Col. A.L.D., supra, 461 Pa. at 507, [534 A.2d 987] 337 A.2d at 268; Aberdeen Ed. Ass'n v. Aberdeen Bd. of Ed. Ind. Sch. D., 88 S.D. 127, 133, 215 N.W.2d 837, 841 (1974); Beloit Educ. Ass'n v. WERC, supra, 73 Wis.2d at 54, 242 N.W.2d at Moreover, this approach reflects the State......
  • State v. Big Head, No. 14376
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • February 20, 1985
    ...of the statute, which avoids the constitutional question, is fairly possible. Aberdeen Ed. Ass'n. v. Aberdeen Bd. of Ed., Ind. Sch. D., 88 S.D. 127, 215 N.W.2d 837 (1974). This court will uphold legislative enactments unless they are clearly and unmistakably unconstitutional. State v. Morri......
  • Opperman v. Heritage Mut. Ins. Co., No. 19856
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • March 27, 1997
    ...re O'Neill, 347 N.W.2d 887 (S.D.1984) (applied rule to general term "other just causes"); Aberdeen Educ. Ass'n v. Aberdeen Bd. of Educ., 88 S.D. 127, 215 N.W.2d 837 (1974) (applied rule to general term "other conditions of employment"). The rule simply does not apply ¶21 The fact that Opper......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
23 cases
  • Canton Lutheran Church v. SOVIK, MATHRE, ETC., Civ. No. 79-4068.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. District of South Dakota
    • February 13, 1981
    ...This is also the policy of the South Dakota Supreme Court. Aberdeen Educational Assn. v. Aberdeen Board 507 F. Supp. 878 of Education, 215 N.W.2d 837 (S.D.1974); House of Seagrams, Inc. v. Assam Drug Co., 83 S.D. 320, 159 N.W.2d 210 (1968). This court must therefore carefully examine the is......
  • Montgomery County Educ. Ass'n, Inc. v. Board of Educ. of Montgomery County, No. 57
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Maryland
    • December 28, 1987
    ...Bd. v. State Col. A.L.D., supra, 461 Pa. at 507, [534 A.2d 987] 337 A.2d at 268; Aberdeen Ed. Ass'n v. Aberdeen Bd. of Ed. Ind. Sch. D., 88 S.D. 127, 133, 215 N.W.2d 837, 841 (1974); Beloit Educ. Ass'n v. WERC, supra, 73 Wis.2d at 54, 242 N.W.2d at Moreover, this approach reflects the State......
  • State v. Big Head, No. 14376
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • February 20, 1985
    ...of the statute, which avoids the constitutional question, is fairly possible. Aberdeen Ed. Ass'n. v. Aberdeen Bd. of Ed., Ind. Sch. D., 88 S.D. 127, 215 N.W.2d 837 (1974). This court will uphold legislative enactments unless they are clearly and unmistakably unconstitutional. State v. Morri......
  • Opperman v. Heritage Mut. Ins. Co., No. 19856
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • March 27, 1997
    ...re O'Neill, 347 N.W.2d 887 (S.D.1984) (applied rule to general term "other just causes"); Aberdeen Educ. Ass'n v. Aberdeen Bd. of Educ., 88 S.D. 127, 215 N.W.2d 837 (1974) (applied rule to general term "other conditions of employment"). The rule simply does not apply ¶21 The fact that Opper......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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