Court of Appeals corrects lower court interpretation of statute allowing schools to ignore seniority rules
In Farr v. St. Johns Public Schools, the Court of Appeals reversed the lower court's dismissal of three non-union teachers. The teachers were employed in a District that was covered under a Collective Bargaining Agreement, pursuant to which teachers could only be terminated after taking into account seniority. Although they weren't members of the union, the three plaintiffs in the lawsuit argued that the CBA applied to them and made it a violation of law to terminate their employment rather than terminating a less-senior teacher.
The trial judge read the terms of the new law adopted by Republicans in 2011. Under that law, School Districts were required to lay off teachers based on "performance, accomplishments and contributions, and specialized training...[rather than] length of service" at the expiration of the school's CBA. Since these three affected teachers were not members of the union, the judge concluded that the school district was within its rights in dumping them without waiting for the expiration of the CBA. The higher court disagreed. It pointed out that the statute, by its operative language, gave the school district the right to terminate "without considering length of service," only after the CBA expired--regardless of whether any particular teacher was covered by the CBA as a union member.
Perhaps these plaintiffs now recognize that "paying their dues" might have been a worthy endeavor, after all. But I doubt it.