BCEA files suit against Blount school board

The Blount County Education Association filed suit against the Blount County School Board on Oct 1, charged that it negotiated in bad faith when it took away step pay raises for teachers and retirement incentives for teachers in the 2010-11 school year budget.

In response, Schools director Rob Britt said, “At this point in time, due to pending litigation, I can’t comment on it.”

In the suit filed in the Blount County Clerk and Master’s Office, the BCEA states salaries are a mandatory subject of negotiation under Tennessee Code Annotated 49-5-611(a). “Since March, 2010, the Board of Education has collectively had a closed mind regarding local salary step increases. The board of education unilateral elimination of local step increases and its unilateral modifications of the salary schedule for professional employees without good faith negotiation constituted unlawful acts in violation of TCA 49-5-609(a)(3).

The BCEA also state that a retirement incentive is a mandatory subject of negation under TCA 49-5-611. “The Board of Education unilateral elimination of the retirement incentive for professional employees without good faith negotiation constitutes an unlawful act in violation of TCA 49-5-609.”

In addition, the BCEA states the Board of Education engaged in a course of “Surface Bargaining” designed to give the appearance of negotiating without having the good faith intention of reaching agreement. “The Board of Education’s course of surface bargaining is evidenced by, among other things, continuous meeting for an extended period of time in negotiations on mandatory subjects without an apparent understanding by Board of Education negotiators of what the Board of Education might accept; the absence of effective communication by the Board of Education to its negotiators regarding the Board of Education’s objectives and desires for bargaining and the tabling of agreements reached by its negotiators and negotiators for the BCEA, pre-empting meaningful negotiation eliminating funding or the retirement incentive and local step increases.”

The BCEA asked that the court declare the Board of Education has engaged in unlawful acts, that they return to negotiations and engage in negotiations in good faith. The BCEA also asked that the court order the Board of Education to restore the local salary step increases and to compensate fully each professional employee who has been paid less than he or she should have been paid in accordance with the 2010-salary schedule.

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