Whitley County Teachers Ass'n v. Bauer, 92A03-9806-CV-251.

Citation718 N.E.2d 1181
Decision Date05 November 1999
Docket NumberNo. 92A03-9806-CV-251.,92A03-9806-CV-251.
PartiesWHITLEY COUNTY TEACHERS ASSOCIATION, Appellant-Plaintiff, v. Angela BAUER, et al., Appellees-Defendants. Whitley County Teachers Association, Appellant-Plaintiff, v. Louise Barber, et al., Appellees-Defendants.
CourtCourt of Appeals of Indiana

Richard J. Darko, Kevin M. Kohart, Lowe Gray Steele & Darko, LLP, Indianapolis, Indiana, Attorney for Appellant.

William T. Hopkins, Jr., Jeffrey S. Schafer, Barnes & Thornburg, Indianapolis, Indiana, Attorney for Appellee.


RILEY, Judge.


In this consolidated appeal, Plaintiff-Appellant Whitley County Teachers Association ("WCTA") appeals the trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Angela Bauer, et. al. and Louise Barber, et. al. ("nonmember teachers") regarding the fair share fee provision of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between WCTA and the Board of School Trustees of Whitley County School Corporation ("School Board").

We reverse and remand with instructions.1


WCTA raises several issues for our consideration which we consolidate and restate as follows:

1. Whether the fair share provision in the CBA between WCTA and the School Board is unconstitutional.

2. Whether the fair share provision in the CBA is procedurally inadequate.

3. Whether there are alternative grounds for affirming the trial court's grant of summary judgment for the nonmember teachers.

4. Whether the trial court improperly denied WCTA's motion for summary judgment.


This appeal is a consolidation of two substantially similar lower court cases filed by the WCTA against its nonmembers for the collection of 1993-1994 fair share fees and 1994-1995 fair share fees. At issue in both cases is the "fair share fee" provision found in the CBA between the School Board and WCTA.2 WCTA serves as the exclusive bargaining representative for the teachers within the school system. See Ind.Code § 20-7.5-1. While all of the teachers are members of the bargaining unit represented by WCTA, not all are members of WCTA.

In each case, the CBA contains a fair share fee provision which reads in pertinent part as follows:


1. The BOARD and WCTA agree that all members of the bargaining unit who are not also members of WCTA have an obligation to pay a fair share to WCTA, in an amount equal to the membership dues of WCTA, including the Indiana State Teachers' Association and the National Educaiton [sic] Association. This obligation applies to persons who become members of the bargaining unit during the life of the agreement, as well as to persons who are members of the bargaining unit on the effective date of this agreement.

2. By October 1 of each year the WCTA shall provide the BOARD with a list of bargaining unit members who are not also WCTA members and wish to pay the fair share fee by payroll deduction. The BOARD will deduct the fair share fe [sic] in twenty (20) equal installments, beginning with the second pay period in October, from the payroll of each person who submits an authorization and will transmit the amount so deducted to the WCTA at the same time as dues which have been deducted as specified above in SECTION A. New employees hired during the school year who choose not to join the WCTA within thirty (30) days of employment shall have their fair share deducted in equal installments from the remaining pay periods from which fair share fees are deducted during that year. Persons who refuse to sign an authorization form or who revoke an executed form have a continuing enforceable obligation to pay the fair share fee directly to the WCTA.

3. The WCTA recognizes that no member of the bargaining unit should be forced to contribute financial support to political or ideological activities, or other activities, that are unrelated to its duties as exclusive bargaining representative. Consequently, the WCTA agrees that any person who objects to paying for such activities is entitled to pay a reduced fair share fee for objectors.

(Barber R. 95).3

The above provision was included in the CBA for both the 1993-1994 and 1994-1995 school years. In the fall of the respective school years, the WCTA distributed to nonmember teachers a packet of information regarding the payment of fair share fees. Included in the packet were financial disclosure documents detailing information used to calculate expenses properly chargeable to nonmember teachers, as well as an Option Sheet to be used by the teachers to select the method by which they would pay their fair share fee. The Option Sheet for the 1993-1994 school year4 included the following options:

Based upon the financial information provided, I am paying my fair share fee in the amount of $457.00 which includes the political and ideological expenditures and the expenditures on other matters unrelated to the duties of the exclusive representative. I waive my right to object to the calculation of the fair share fee before an impartial arbitrator.
Based upon the financial information provided, I am paying my fair share fee for objectors in the amount estimated by the Whitley County Teachers Association, but object to any money being spent on political or ideological matters or other matters not related to the duties of the exclusive representative or expenses for special services and liability insurance. I will pay the fair share fee in the amount of $380.75. I understand that if an impartial arbitrator determines the amount owed is less than this amount, the difference will be returned to me.
I object to paying any fair share fee prior to the arbitrators decision. I understand that I will be obligated to pay the fair share fee determined by the arbitrator within thirty (30) days following the arbitrator's decision.

(Barber 2nd Supp. R. 39).

Nonmember teachers who did not select an option were automatically placed in Option 3. WCTA contacted the American Arbitration Association ("AAA") and requested that they appoint an arbitrator to determine fair share fees, according to the AAA's "Rules for Impartial Determination of Union Fees." Arbitration hearings were held in January 1994 and January 1995. Based on the information presented, the arbitrator in each case calculated the fair share fee for that year. The nonmember teachers' fair share fee for the 1993-1994 school year was $371.90 and the fee for 1994-1995 school year was $365.32. Following the arbitrators' decisions, WCTA demanded payment from the nonmember teachers. The nonmember teachers refused to pay, and WCTA brought suit to compel payment. Both WCTA and the nonmember teachers moved for summary judgment. The trial court granted the nonmember teachers' motions for summary judgment and denied WCTA's motions for summary judgment. WCTA now appeals these judgments.


The purpose of summary judgment is to end litigation which may be determined as a matter of law and about which there can be no factual dispute. Flosenzier v. John Glenn Educ. Ass'n, 656 N.E.2d 864, 866 (Ind.Ct.App.1995), trans. denied. When reviewing a summary judgment ruling, we do not weigh the evidence, but rather we consider the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party in order to determine whether there exist designated genuine issues of material fact concerning an essential element of a claim. Foursquare Tabernacle Church of God in Christ v. Department of Metropolitan Development of Consolidated City of Indianapolis, 630 N.E.2d 1381, 1384 (Ind. Ct.App.1994). However, "[d]espite conflicting facts and inferences on some elements of a claim, summary judgment may be proper when there is no dispute regarding facts that are dispositive of the litigation." Flosenzier, 656 N.E.2d at 867.

Although the trial court's findings and conclusions are helpful in clarifying the trial court's rationale, they are not binding on this court. Mapleturn Utilities, Inc. v. Foxcliff South Associates, Inc., 673 N.E.2d 5, 10 (Ind.Ct.App.1996), trans. denied. Instead, this court can affirm a judgment on any theory presented by the case. Those other grounds, however, must have been properly designated by the movant and must be otherwise supported by the record. See Tazian v. Cline, 673 N.E.2d 485, 488 (Ind.Ct.App.1996),


686 N.E.2d 95 (Ind.1997). If the trial court has incorrectly applied the law to the undisputed facts, this court will reverse a summary judgment. Mapleturn Utilities, Inc.,

673 N.E.2d at 12.

The trial court in both cases below denied WCTA's motion for summary judgment and granted the nonmember teachers' motion for summary judgment. Thus, we will review the trial court's judgments under the foregoing standard.

I. Whether the CBA's fair share provision is unconstitutional.

WCTA, as an association which is an exclusive bargaining representative of the certified school employees of Whitley County, has the duty in Indiana to represent all teachers included in its bargaining unit, whether or not they are members of the association. See Ind.Code § 20-7.5-1. This duty includes representing all employees within the unit for: 1) collective bargaining under Ind.Code § 20-7.5-1-4; 2) "discussion" with the school employer pursuant to Ind.Code § 20-7.5-1-5; 3) grievance adjustment under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement; and 4) other duties related to its role as exclusive bargaining representative. As the exclusive bargaining representative, WCTA had the right to collect a fair share fee from members of its bargaining unit who were not members of the association, for the costs associated with WCTA's representation in the collective bargaining process. See Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson, 475 U.S. 292, 300, 106 S.Ct. 1066, 1073, 89 L.Ed.2d 232 (1986)

; and Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, 431 U.S. 209, 229, 97 S.Ct. 1782, 1796, 52 L.Ed.2d 261 (1977).

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