New Prairie Classroom Teachers Ass'n v. Stewart

Decision Date22 January 1986
Docket NumberNo. 3-1184A330,3-1184A330
Citation487 N.E.2d 1324,123 L.R.R.M. 3115
Parties123 L.R.R.M. (BNA) 3115, 29 Ed. Law Rep. 1130 NEW PRAIRIE CLASSROOM TEACHERS ASSOCIATION, Appellant, v. Susan STEWART, et al., Appellees.
CourtIndiana Appellate Court

David T. Bryant, Nat. Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, Inc., Springfield, Va., Arthur L. Roule, Jr., Raelson, Olson, Roule, Baugher & Hedge, LaPorte, for appellant.

Richard J. Darko, Janet C. Knapp, Bayh, Tabbert & Capehart, Indianapolis, Patrick E. Donoghue, Sweeney, Winski, Dabagia & Donoghue, Michigan City, for appellees.

STATON, Presiding Judge.

The New Prairie Classroom Teachers Association (NPCTA) filed thirty-seven small claims actions, consolidated for trial, to collect a representation fee from teachers who were not dues-paying members of NPCTA. 1 The trial court found that the clause in the teachers' collective bargaining agreement authorizing such a fee was unenforceable under the Certificated Educational Employee Bargaining Act (CEEBA), but on appeal to this Court the agreement was upheld. New Prairie Classroom Teachers Association v. Stewart (1983), Ind.App., 460 N.E.2d 149. The cause was remanded and judgment was entered against each teacher in the amount of $190.16. Appealing from this judgment, teachers raise several issues which we consolidate and restate as follows:

I. Whether the trial court erred in finding that the representation fee should include reimbursement to the Indiana State Teachers Association (ISTA) and the National Education Association (NEA);

II. Whether the trial court erred in calculating the representation fee.

Affirmed.

I. Reimbursement to ISTA and NEA

NPCTA, which is affiliated with ISTA and NEA, is the recognized exclusive representative of teachers employed by the New Prairie United School Corporation (school board). NPCTA and the school board executed a collective bargaining agreement to run from July 1, 1980, through June 30, 1983, which provided in part:

"Paragraph 1.

The Board and Association agree that all members of the bargaining unit who are not also members of the Association have an obligation to pay a representation fee to the Association, including the Indiana State Teachers Association and the National Education Association.

Paragraph 2.

By October 1 of each year, the Association shall provide the Board with a list of bargaining unit members who are not also Association members, and the Board shall request each person to submit an original individual enrollment form, within a reasonable time. Upon return of such signed form to the Board, the Board will deduct the representation fee in 22 equal installments from the payroll of each person who submits an authorization. Persons who refuse to sign an authorization form or who revoke an executed form have a continuing enforceable obligation to pay the representation fee directly to the Association; however, the employer shall be under no obligation whatsoever to enforce the terms of this Section. (4.6).

Paragraph 3.

The Association recognizes that no member of the bargaining unit should be forced to contribute financial support to political or ideological activities of the Association unrelated to collective bargaining, contract administration, and grievance adjustment or unrelated to its duties as exclusive bargaining representative.

Paragraph 4.

The parties agree that the provisions of this Article (IV) will not be enforced against any person who initiates proceedings challenging the legality of this Article, or who is a party thereto, pending final disposition of such proceedings, except that the representation fee may be collected by the Board, and held in escrow, provided such employee so consents.

Paragraph 5.

The Association, including the local, the Indiana State Teachers Association and the National Education Association agree to 'hold harmless' the New Prairie United School Corporation, its School Board, employees, agents and assigns, as to all claims that may arise in litigation resulting from the implementation of this provision or attempted implementation. Said Associations agree to pay all costs of such litigation, including court costs, attorney fees, judgments, penalties and interest. Prior to performance by the employer of any obligation it may have under this Article, the Employer may demand such written security, bonds, or assurances, it deems reasonable, that said Associations will comply with this section, and said Associations shall agree to execute same."

The teachers involved in this appeal refused to authorize payroll deduction or otherwise pay representation fees to NPCTA. The trial court ordered each teacher to pay a fee of $190.16, to be distributed as follows:

                NPCTA:  $ 20.00
                ISTA:    128.45
                NEA:      41.71
                

The teachers argue that it was error to find that NPCTA had been elected exclusive representative in its affiliated status, because only NPCTA could be the teachers' exclusive representative. It has never been claimed that ISTA and NEA are co-exclusive representatives of the teachers. The teachers' real complaint is that ISTA and NEA receive a portion of their representation fee, because the organizations are not exclusive representatives, and because they allegedly provided no collective bargaining services to the teachers during the term for which payment is being sought.

We must note, first, that the collective bargaining agreement, which was upheld by this Court in the initial appeal of this cause, provides at Paragraph 1 that the representation fee shall include payments to ISTA and NEA. A similar agreement and fee distribution plan was enforced in Fort Wayne Educ. Ass'n, Inc. v. Goetz (1982), Ind.App. 443 N.E.2d 364. As to the teachers' allegation that no collective bargaining services were provided, one purpose of these payments was to secure the availability of services from these organizations. As the United States Supreme Court has recognized,

"[t]he tasks of negotiating and administering a collective-bargaining agreement and representing the interests of employees in settling disputes and processing grievances are continuing and difficult ones. They often entail expenditure of much time and money. See Street, 367 U.S., at 760, 81 S.Ct., at 1795. The services of lawyers, expert negotiators, economists, and a research staff, as well as general administrative personnel, may be required."

Abood v. Detroit Bd. of Education (1977), 431 U.S. 209, 221, 97 S.Ct. 1782, 1792, 52 L.Ed.2d 261. Were NPCTA to hire local lawyers, negotiators or researchers, there would be little dispute that they could charge a fair share of the cost to the non-member teachers. Instead, they have chosen to pay a fixed, yearly amount for the continued availability of such services. The teachers cannot force NPCTA to abandon this approach, nor should they be allowed to benefit from the services of ISTA or NEA without paying a fair share of the cost of their continued availability.

II. Representation Fee

This Court, on the initial appeal of this cause, upheld the collective bargaining agreement requiring payment of a representation fee to NPCTA, finding it to be constitutional and authorized by Indiana statutes. Stewart, supra, 460 N.E.2d at 149. See also Goetz, supra, 443 N.E.2d 364. The United States Supreme Court has long recognized that all employees who benefit from the work of an elected bargaining representative may be required to pay their fair share of the costs. Railway Employes' Department v. Hanson (1956), 351 U.S. 225, 238, 76 S.Ct. 714, 721, 100 L.Ed. 1112. Employees may not, however be required to pay for political or ideological activities to which they object. Abood, supra, 431 U.S. at 236-38, 97 S.Ct. at 1800-01. The test for determining whether expenses are chargeable to objecting employees was recently restated in Ellis v. Broth. of Ry., Airline and S.S. Clerks (1984), 466 U.S. 435, 104 S.Ct. 1883, 1892, 80 L.Ed.2d 428:

"[T]he test must be whether the challenged expenditures are necessarily or reasonably incurred for the purpose of performing the duties of an exclusive representative of the employees in dealing with the employer on labor-management issues. Under this standard, objecting employees may be compelled to pay their fair share of not only the direct costs of negotiating and administering a collective-bargaining contract and of settling grievances and disputes, but also the expenses of activities or undertakings normally or reasonably employed to implement or effectuate the duties of the union as exclusive representative of the employees in the bargaining unit."

In Paragraph 3 of its collective bargaining agreement NPCTA acknowledges that objecting teachers should not be forced to pay for political or ideological activities "unrelated to collective bargaining, contract administration, and grievance adjustment or unrelated to its duties as exclusive bargaining representative." The representation fee which the trial court ordered the teachers to pay is less than the amount paid by NPCTA members: ISTA's share was reduced by $4.55, and NEA's share was reduced by $3.29. These reductions reflect the proportion of each organization's budget which was allocated for non-chargeable political or ideological activities, according to internal estimates.

The teachers argue that the method for calculating their representation fee should be a pro rata share of the amount actually spent on collective bargaining activities, with NPCTA required to prove such amount. The United States Supreme Court has not gone so far. The formula which the trial court used was suggested by the Supreme Court itself. International Ass'n of Machinists v. Street (1961), 367 U.S. 740, 774-75, 81 S.Ct. 1784, 1802-03, 6 L.Ed.2d 1141. Last year in Ellis the Court reviewed a rebate plan in which a proportional amount was refunded to objecting employees at the end of the year, after political and ideological expenditures had been calculated. While the...

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