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July 18, 2011

Surrender of prior contract benefit for a different benefit does not bar renegotiation of the new benefit in the future


Surrender of prior contract benefit for a different benefit does not bar renegotiation of the new benefit in the future
Mtr. of the Scotia-Glenville Central School District, Impasse procedure, PERB Case M200-080

A union agrees give up one employee benefit or accepts a lesser employee benefit in order to obtain, maintain or improve a different employee benefit. Is such a decision “permanent” insofar as subsequent demands to modify the benefit “bought” when the union agreed to the negotiated compromise? This was a consideration in the Scotia-Glenville case.

The Scotia-Glenville School Employees Local 766 and the Scotia-Glenville Central School District declared an impasse in collective bargaining.

In the impasse resolution procedure that followed, one of the issues before PERB Fact Finder Ben Falcigno was the District's demand that employee contributions for health insurance be increased.

Local 766 objected, contending that its prior decisions to take less pay in favor of continuing the higher level of employer health insurance contributions on behalf of unit members, had, in essence, frozen the employees' contributions for health insurance at levels previously agreed upon.

Falcigno rejected the Local's argument. He said that the Local's claim that what was done at one point in time is dispositive of all future considerations concerning the subject in dispute is inappropriate unless the actual agreement clearly says that such is to be the case. Without such a clear and specific contract provision, the expiration of a collective bargaining agreement sets the stage “for a whole new consideration of what is appropriate for these parties for the period of the newly negotiated agreement” by the fact finder.

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