How Act 93 Works
As administrators employed by a school district you have the right to:
- Meet and Discuss in good faith with the school board – The purpose of these discussions is to present data and arguments for salary increases and methods of determining future raises and benefits. Benefits would include the usual medical, dental, vision, etc. It could include retirement benefits, vacations, other time off, and buy-back of such time should the administrator leave the district for any reason. Some school boards like to include transfer language, a limited grievance procedure, evaluation language and work-day, work-year definitions, which can be part of the discussions.
- A written compensation plan as board policy whether or not you have Meet and Discuss – The plan must be written and contain as a minimum a description of benefits, salaries (how they are determined), and an overall description of the compensation plan.
- To use the grievance procedure provided by the 1947 Anti-Strike act -This process of fact finding is administered through the Pennsylvania Department of Education. The process, which is non-binding, is used most often when school boards refuse to even meet with their administrators.
The law requires that a majority of administrators support Meet and Discuss sessions with the school board. While the law does not define the word majority it has become the practice that if more than 50% of the administrators support the concept of meeting with the board, then the board must meet with the administrative group. It is also understood that if successful conclusions are to be reached, whatever is agreed to will be for all administrators. Therefore, no special deals can be made later for one person or a subgroup within the larger group.
REMEMBER THE PURPOSE OF ACT 93 IS TO STRENGTHEN THE MANAGEMENT TEAM BY HAVING A PROCEDURE IN PLACE TO DEAL WITH SALARIES AND BENEFITS. IT IS NOT A COLLECTIVE BARGAINING LAW.
ACT 93 AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ACT 195/88
- Under Act 93, the school board after good faith Meet and Discuss can adopt the administrator compensation plan without the concurrence of the administrators. On the other hand, act 195 does not require either side to agree to a particular contract. However, no collective bargaining agreement is in effect until both parties agree to the terms and conditions contained in the document.
- Act 195/88 has strict time limits. Act 93 is more flexible and the determination of when to start discussions is left up to administrators. Unlike collective bargaining which may take many months or even years, administrators tend to have a plan implemented in much shorter period. However, because each district culture is different the local administrative team needs to determine if working past the ACP’s expiration date without a new plan is in their best interest. If good faith Meet and Discuss has occurred the board may adopt the ACP. Unlike in collective bargain, the administrators cannot delay the adoption of the ACP by failing to agree to its terms and conditions.
- It is important to start the process early. The administrative group needs to determine that a majority wants to initiate Meet and Discuss. By failing to start early not enough time may exist before the expiration of the ACP to discuss the issues thoroughly. Rather than continue discussions the school board may unilaterally act to adopt the new ACP rather than have no plan in place. It becomes difficult to argue that there has been insufficient time to adequately discuss the issues when the complaining party waited so long to begin discussions. Remember school boards because of their busy schedule may require many weeks between sessions.
WHAT IS GOOD FAITH MEET AND DISCUSS?
- Not an easy concept to prove/disprove. A good definition was never defined when reviewing Act 195.
- The courts make a determination on good faith based on intention.
- Were the sessions productive? Did open dialogue take place?
- While time is not usually an indicator, it can be considered for good faith. For example, if the board only held one meeting or if they scheduled and constantly canceled meetings, this may be a basis for not meeting the good faith intent.
- Did the school board convey factual reasons and rationale for its decisions?
- Is the ACP complete in stating the term, salaries, benefits, early retirement incentives, college credits, dues payments and any other factor affecting salary, such as evaluations, in the plan?
- Did the school board present a written plan to administrators for their consensus after Meet and Discuss, or did they pass the plan without administrative input into the written document?
- While not required, a document that is written as a contract signed by both parties shows a strong intent on the part of the school board.
- Did the board treat the Act 93 team with the purpose of mutually solving this problem?
- Was the school board decision contrary to the law, board policy, or the facts?
- Were there attempts on the part of the school board to intimidate or coerce the participants in the discussion?
- Was a serious effort made to resolve differences? (this would apply to both parties)
ACT 93 ISSUES
The problem is who to compare – teachers, other school districts, business community, or general wage trends? It is recommended the Act 93 group consider a number of factors. This enhances the credibility of your argument for salary and benefit increases.
This should be one of mutual problem-solving rather than negotiations – proposal – counter proposal approach. There are certain expectations that society has evoked on management level employees. Contract negotiations are not one of the characteristics school board members expect to see from management employees. Instead, they expect a teamwork, mutual problem-solving approach. This doesn’t mean the school board will agree with the Act 93 group; however board members will be more likely to continue discussions with this approach. With additional discussion , there is more likelihood an agreement can be achieved.
The courts have determined that once the school board approves a compensation plan it may not be changed without mutual agreement (Curley v. Greater Johnstown School District). A mandamus action in extreme situations may be used if the school board refuses to meet and discuss or decreases/freezes wages.
A one-year minimum or multiple-year agreement is the decision faced by the Meet and Discuss group. This is a local decision determined on the particular issues. A concern is that the group is being forced to take a long multiple-year agreement if they do not concur with the terms the board proposes.