Rochester Ed. Ass'n v. City of Rochester, 7432

CourtSupreme Court of New Hampshire
Citation116 N.H. 402,359 A.2d 640
Docket NumberNo. 7432,7432
Parties, 92 L.R.R.M. (BNA) 3587, 80 Lab.Cas. P 54,009 ROCHESTER EDUCATION ASSOCIATION et al. v. CITY OF ROCHESTER et al.
Decision Date30 June 1976

McLane, Graf, Greene, Raulerson & Middleton and Stephen E. Borofsky, Manchester (Jack B. Middleton, Machester, orally), for plaintiffs.

Fisher, Parsons, Moran & Temple, Dover (Robert E. Fisher, Dover, orally), for defendants city and school board.

GRIFFITH, Justice.

Petition for declaratory judgment by plaintiff Rochester Education Association seeking a determination as to whether a multi-year collective bargaining agreement between the plaintiff and the defendant school board is binding upon the defendants for the school year 1975-76, and whether a certain city ordinance controls the terms of the agreement. After two hearings, the Trial Court (Mullavey, J.) found for the plaintiff on both issues and denied defendants' motion to dismiss on the ground that no justiciable controversy exists. All questions of law raised by defendants' exceptions were reserved and transferred.

The plaintiff association, which has been recognized as the exclusive bargaining representative of the professional employees of the Rochester school system, has for the past several years negotiated collective bargaining agreements with the defendant school board. Negotiations begun in the winter of 1974 culminated in August of that year in a proposed agreement for the school years 1974-75 and 1975-76. The association formally ratified the proposed agreement, and the board's negotiation committee recommended that the board accept it. However, at the request of Mayor Shaw, ex-officio chairman of the board, ratification was deferred pending review of the proposed contract by the city solicitor, Paul B. Urion, Esq. The city solicitor detailed a number of objections, including particularly objection to Article II of the agreement, which dealt with sick leave. Article II provided:

'Each new teacher shall be granted ten (10) days per year. These sick leave days are to be cumulative and unlimited in number.'

While the agreements of several previous years had contained identical language, the city solicitor concluded that Article II was in violation of Chapter XXV, Section 2, Sub-Section G of the Ordinances of the City of Rochester. The ordinance provides in pertinent part:

'G. Each full-time employee of the City shall be allowed (10) days maximum sick leave in any twelve-month period accumulative to fifty (50).

The association took the position that teachers are employees of the school district rather than of the city, and that therefore the ordinance had no bearing on the proposed agreement. The parties could not resolve this dispute, and so agreed to amend Article II as follows:

'Each new teacher shall be granted ten (10) days per year. These sick days are to be accumulated to a maximum of fifty (50) days until the attorney for the Board and the Association agree to a further solution. This in no way means to deprive either side of their legal rights.'

While negotiations between the parties on unresolved issues has continued the defendants agree that there was a valid and binding contract for the school year 1974-75 but deny that a multiyear contract could be binding on the school board. Relying on this later position the defendants deny there was any contract for the year 1975-76.

Initially the defendants argue that the issues in dispute are not properly determined in a declaratory judgment action. Their reliance on Piper v. Meredith, 109 N.H. 328, 251 A.2d 328 (1969) is misplaced. Unlike Piper v. Meredith, the case before us concerns a dispute between the parties over their rights under an existing binding contract and does not constitute a demand for advice as to future cases. See Wuelper v. University of N. H.112 N.H. 471, 298 A.2d 747 (1972). Declaratory judgment is a broad remedy and should not be denied when the facts before the court will permit a conclusive determination of the dispute between parties before 'obligations are repudiated and rights invaded.' Portsmouth Hospital v. Indemnity Ins. Co.,109 N.H. 53, 55, 242 A.2d 398, 400 (1968).

The trial court correctly ruled that the applicability of the...

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4 cases
  • Rochester School Bd. v. Public Emp. Labor Relations Bd., s. 7710
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of New Hampshire
    • 14 Febrero 1979
    ...those required by their collective bargaining agreement for the 1975-76 school year. In our decision in Rochester Educ. Ass'n v. City of Rochester, 116 N.H. 402, 359 A.2d 640 (1976), this court upheld the validity of a Master Agreement between the Rochester Education Association (REA), repr......
  • Jeannont v. New Hampshire Personnel Commission, 7756
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of New Hampshire
    • 27 Septiembre 1978
    ......Ogden City Public School Teach. Retire. Comm'n, 121 Utah 503, 509-10, ......
  • Appeal of Sanborn Regional School Bd., 89-529
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of New Hampshire
    • 14 Agosto 1990
    ...holding has been extended to cases dealing with multi-year collective bargaining agreements. See Rochester Educ. Ass'n v. City of Rochester, 116 N.H. 402, 405, 359 A.2d 640, 642 (1976). Accordingly, we hold that neither the provisions of RSA chapter 273-A, nor the common law, preclude the s......
  • Appell, Application of, 7430
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of New Hampshire
    • 30 Junio 1976

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