Recent Changes to Indiana Teacher Collective Bargaining

Amy A. Matthews

Author: Amy A. Matthews

POST DATE: 7.1.19
Ccha  Education Law

2019 Indiana Teacher Collective Bargaining Requirements

Since the teacher collective bargaining law was overhauled in 2011, new laws and deadlines have resulted in changes for each bargaining season. 2019 is no exception, and here are significant timelines and requirements for the 2019 bargaining season, updated to reflect the very latest guidance from relevant government agencies.

July 1- September 15, 2019 Public Hearing Prior to Formal Negotiation Sessions

A school employer and school employees are now required to hold a public hearing and take public testimony to discuss the items described in Indiana Code 20-29-6-1(a) before engaging in formal collective bargaining. This means the hearing is designed to be jointly conducted with the teachers’ exclusive representative. Because the public hearing involves the exclusive representative and because both the public hearing and public meeting portions of statute use the term “school employer” rather than “governing board,” the public hearing may be conducted by the School Board’s designated bargaining representatives and outside a board meeting setting. While it is anticipated that public testimony would focus on subjects of bargaining, we note that “section (a)” also includes a reference to statutory subjects of Discussion.

If desired, this hearing may be combined with the below-described meeting on TRF contribution savings, but note that the TRF savings meeting is required to be facilitated by the School Board. Care should be taken with the tone of and information shared in this hearing to avoid allegations of unfair labor practice (predetermination of salary increase).

The governing body of each school corporation must, after July 1, 2019, and before October 1, 2019, hold at least one public meeting to determine: (1) the dollar amount of the reduction in the school corporation's employer contribution rate; and (2) the actions the governing body of the school corporation intends to take with that amount.

The pre-bargaining public hearing can be held anytime prior to the first formal bargaining session (first meeting of the parties following September 15), but best practice is to wait until the expiration of the current agreement (almost always, June 30) to hold this hearing. In addition, even if a school achieves a tentative agreement before September 15, this hearing must be held.

Sept. 15 - November 5, 2019 Deadline for Posting the Tentative Agreement on Website

Notice of the time and location of the pre-ratification public meeting on the tentative agreement must be posted on the school employer’s website at least 72 hours prior to the public meeting. Taking into account that Monday, November 11, 2019 is a state holiday, the practical deadline for reaching a tentative agreement is Tuesday, November 5, 2019, which would allow time for the tentative agreement and meeting notice to be posted by Thursday, November 7 and the public meeting on the tentative agreement to occur Tuesday, November 12, with the ratification meeting occurring on Friday, November 15.

(While the technical deadline for the TA would be Thursday, November 6, it is advisable for the parties to have a little time to review the TA for accuracy and typos. Unlike Indiana’s general public meeting law, this law does not exclude weekends and holidays from the notice period. So 72 hours may actually end up less than the 48 “business hours” required by the general public meeting law, but these deadlines take both statutes into account, since both statutes must be followed. Keep in mind that Monday, November 11, 2019 is a state holiday, and thus cannot be included in the 48 business hours.)

November 12, 2019 Deadline to Hold Pre-Ratification Public Meeting on Tentative Agreement

A school employer is required to conduct a public meeting to discuss the tentative collective bargaining agreement negotiated between the representatives of the parties. This is a meeting as opposed to a hearing, and because this section of the law specifically requires public comment at the ratification but not at this meeting, it is not technically legally required that public comment be allowed at this meeting. However, it is advisable from a risk management and public relations perspective that public comment be permitted.

Since the statute lists this as a “public meeting” of the school employer, it must be a full school board meeting under the Open Door Law, with 48 business hours’ notice and a quorum of board members present.

November 15, 2019 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) Ratification Deadline

In light of the facts that November 15 falls on a Friday this year (one of the least popular days of the week for a school board meeting), and that 72 hours must pass between the TA public meeting and the ratification meeting, this deadline is more practically Thursday, November 14, which, with November 11 being a holiday, would move the deadlines back (with tentative agreement deadline being November 1, TA posting deadline being November 4, etc.). IEERB will likely send out mediation notices early the week of November 18.

This article covers the basic timelines and requirements for 2019 bargaining. If your school needs assistance with any particular bargaining scenario, including but not limited to the public hearing and public meeting, please contact a member of the CCHA School Law Team.