Afscme Local 1025 v. Sioux Falls Sch. Dist., No. 25935.

CourtSupreme Court of South Dakota
Writing for the CourtZINTER
Citation809 N.W.2d 349,192 L.R.R.M. (BNA) 2637,277 Ed. Law Rep. 463,2011 S.D. 76
Docket NumberNo. 25935.
Decision Date16 November 2011
PartiesAFSCME LOCAL 1025, Petitioner and Appellee, v. SIOUX FALLS SCHOOL DISTRICT, Respondent and Appellant,Sioux Falls Education Assistants Association, Petitioner and Appellee, v. Sioux Falls School District # 49–5 and Board of Education, Respondent and Appellant.

192 L.R.R.M. (BNA) 2637
2011 S.D. 76
277 Ed.
Law Rep. 463
809 N.W.2d 349

AFSCME LOCAL 1025, Petitioner and Appellee,
v.
SIOUX FALLS SCHOOL DISTRICT, Respondent and Appellant,Sioux Falls Education Assistants Association, Petitioner and Appellee,
v.
Sioux Falls School District # 49–5 and Board of Education, Respondent and Appellant.

No. 25935.

Supreme Court of South Dakota.

Argued Oct. 5, 2011.Decided Nov. 16, 2011.


[809 N.W.2d 349]

Shane E. Eden of Davenport, Evans, Hurwitz & Smith, LLP, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Susan Brunick Simons of Sioux Falls School District, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Attorneys for respondents and appellants Sioux Falls School District # 49–5 and Board of Education.

[809 N.W.2d 350]

Linda Lea M. Viken of Viken Law Firm, Rapid City, South Dakota, Attorney for petitioner and appellee AFSCME Local 1025.

Anne E. Plooster of South Dakota Education Association, Pierre, South Dakota, Attorney for petitioner and appellee Sioux Falls Education Assistants Association.ZINTER, Justice.

[¶ 1.] AFSCME Local 1025 (Local 1025) and the Sioux Falls Education Assistants Association (SFEAA) filed grievances against the Sioux Falls School District (District). The unions alleged that the District violated the parties' labor agreements when the District provided 2.5% wage increases for the 2008–2009 school year. The issues on appeal are: whether the grievances were filed too late; and if not, what the proper wage increases were following a change in a school funding statute that was used in the agreements to determine wage increases.

Facts and Procedural History

[¶ 2.] Local 1025 and SFEAA are unions representing certain non-instructional employees of the District. The unions negotiated labor agreements with the District covering wages and other terms of employment for a six-year term (July 1, 2007 through June 30, 2013). Both agreements provided for a 10% salary increase the first year. Increases for years two through six were to correlate with the percentage change in what the agreements referred to as the “State Rate.” The State Rate is defined in the agreements as “the ‘Per Student Allocation’ as defined in [SDCL] 13–13–10.1(4).” The per student allocation in SDCL 13–13–10.1(4) is set by the Legislature each year. It is the money the Legislature appropriates (on a per-pupil basis) to school districts for education funding. See Davis v. State, 2011 S.D. 51, ¶¶ 19, 20, 30, 804 N.W.2d 618, 629, 632. The parties agree that the appropriate wage increase for the 2008–2009 school year should be the percentage change in the per student allocation (the State Rate) approved by the 2008 Legislature. This dispute arose because, unlike prior years, the 2008 Legislature increased the per student allocation by two alternative percentages and the parties cannot agree which percentage applies.

[¶ 3.] The 2008 legislation originated as Senate Bill 187.1 Section 1 of Senate Bill 187 amended SDCL 13–13–10.1(4) by increasing the 2008–2009 per student allocation by 3%. Section 2, however, (later codified as SDCL 13–13–10.6) provided only a 2.5% increase in the 2008–2009 per student allocation if a school district did not certify to the Secretary of Education that the district would increase its

[809 N.W.2d 351]

average teacher salary and benefits by at least 3% and that it would spend an additional $22.64 of the new per student allocation on teacher salaries and benefits. There is no dispute that the District's pre-existing contract with its teachers already required the District to provide more than a 3% increase in the average teacher salary and benefits for the 2008–2009 school year.

[¶ 4.] On April 8, 2008, the District called a meeting for all unions affected by Senate Bill 187. Although it appeared that the District's contract with its teachers would satisfy Senate Bill 187's requirement for the 3% increase in per student allocation (the State Rate), the District Superintendent indicated that the District only intended to increase Local 1025 and SFEAA members' wages by 2.5%. The District did, however, offer a 3% increase to the members of Local 1025 and SFEAA if they would approve a memorandum of understanding (MOU) agreeing that a 3% increase was not required by the parties' labor agreements. The MOU also required the union members to agree that future State restrictions on local district spending (like that found in Section 2 of Senate Bill 187) would not be considered part of future State Rate increases as that term was used in the labor agreements.2

[¶ 5.] On April 14, Local 1025 called the District Superintendent and advised that its members had voted to reject the MOU. Local 1025 also sent an email on April 18 stating its belief that its members were entitled to a 3% raise under the existing agreement. Similarly, SFEAA sent the Superintendent an email on April 17 stating that it had been advised by counsel that its members were entitled to a 3% raise without signing the MOU. On April 23, SFEAA advised the Superintendent that SFEAA's members had voted to reject the MOU.

[¶ 6.] On May 12, the District certified to the Secretary of Education that it would increase its average teacher salary and benefits by at least 3% and spend the additional $22.64 on those salaries and benefits. This certification complied with the requirements of Section 2 of Senate Bill 187 (SDCL 13–13–10.6) and entitled the District to receive the 3% increase in per student allocation referenced in Section 1 of Senate Bill 187 (SDCL 13–13–10.1(4)). Nevertheless, the District's Board of Education subsequently adopted a budget on June 23 that only granted a 2.5% wage increase for the members of Local 1025 and SFEAA.

[¶ 7.] The parties' agreements contained grievance procedures that were substantively the same. Class grievances were defined as complaints by more than one employee “concerning the interpretation of or application of the existing provisions” of the agreements. Both agreements required that grievances be filed within thirty days of the alleged “violation,” or within thirty days of when through reasonable diligence the violation should have been discovered.

[¶ 8.] On June 18, the District received a written grievance from Local 1025. The

[809 N.W.2d 352]

grievance identified the “violation” as the: “Denial of wage increase ...” as required by the agreement. Local 1025 requested “to be made whole [with a] 3% increase instead of 2.5%....” On July 10, the District received a written grievance from SFEAA stating its “problem” was: “The District has misinterpreted ... [the] Agreement. The state funding formula for the 2008–2009 school year for all Sioux Falls School District Employees [was] 3% not 2.5%.” The SFEAA grievance indicated the incident date was June 23, 2008, the day the District implemented the wage increase. SFEAA requested “that [its members] be paid 3% plus interest ... to be made whole when this grievance process is complete.”

[¶ 9.] The District denied both grievances as untimely. Local 1025 and SFEAA subsequently petitioned the Department of Labor to review the matter. The Department dismissed both grievances as untimely. The unions then appealed the Department's decision to circuit court. The sixth judicial circuit court, Judge Brown presiding, concluded that the grievances were timely. Judge Brown reversed and remanded the matter to the Department to determine the correct percentage wage increase.

[¶ 10.] On remand, all parties moved for summary judgment. The Department concluded that the members of Local 1025 and SFEAA were entitled to a 3% wage increase for the 2008–2009 school year. The District then appealed that decision to circuit court. Following a change of venue, the second judicial circuit court, Judge Srstka presiding, affirmed the Department. The District now appeals to this Court, contending that the grievances were untimely and that the members of Local 1025...

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3 practice notes
  • People ex rel. P.S.E., No. 26068.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • 3 Agosto 2012
    ...provided were unsuccessful is a question of statutory interpretation reviewed de novo. See AFSCME Local 1025 v. Sioux Falls Sch. Dist., 2011 S.D. 76, ¶ 11, 809 N.W.2d 349, 352. Father argues that because the trial court did not enter a specific finding of fact indicating the efforts of DSS ......
  • People ex rel. P.S.E., #26068-a-GAS
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • 20 Junio 2012
    ...provided were unsuccessful is a question of statutory interpretation reviewed de novo. See AFSCME Local 1025 v. Sioux Falls Sch. Dist., 2011 S.D. 76, ¶ 11, 809 N.W.2d 349,Page 5352. Father argues that because the trial court did not enter a specific finding of fact indicating the efforts of......
  • In re Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) Air Quality Permit Application of Hyperion Energy Center—Hyperion Ref., LLC, Nos. 26290
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • 23 Enero 2013
    ...or statute. “Contract and statutory interpretation are questions of law we review de novo.” AFSCME Local 1025 v. Sioux Falls Sch. Dist., 2011 S.D. 76, ¶ 11, 809 N.W.2d 349, 352. “Administrative regulations are subject to the same rules of construction as are statutes.” WestMed Rehab, Inc. v......
3 cases
  • People ex rel. P.S.E., No. 26068.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • 3 Agosto 2012
    ...provided were unsuccessful is a question of statutory interpretation reviewed de novo. See AFSCME Local 1025 v. Sioux Falls Sch. Dist., 2011 S.D. 76, ¶ 11, 809 N.W.2d 349, 352. Father argues that because the trial court did not enter a specific finding of fact indicating the efforts of DSS ......
  • People ex rel. P.S.E., #26068-a-GAS
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • 20 Junio 2012
    ...provided were unsuccessful is a question of statutory interpretation reviewed de novo. See AFSCME Local 1025 v. Sioux Falls Sch. Dist., 2011 S.D. 76, ¶ 11, 809 N.W.2d 349,Page 5352. Father argues that because the trial court did not enter a specific finding of fact indicating the efforts of......
  • In re Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) Air Quality Permit Application of Hyperion Energy Center—Hyperion Ref., LLC, Nos. 26290
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • 23 Enero 2013
    ...or statute. “Contract and statutory interpretation are questions of law we review de novo.” AFSCME Local 1025 v. Sioux Falls Sch. Dist., 2011 S.D. 76, ¶ 11, 809 N.W.2d 349, 352. “Administrative regulations are subject to the same rules of construction as are statutes.” WestMed Rehab, Inc. v......

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