On March 28, 2014, the Michigan Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff (“ACTS”) and the American Federation of Teachers (“AFT”) (collectively the “Union”) filed an election petition to organize a collective bargaining unit, naming both a public school academy (the “Academy”) and an educational service provider (an “ESP”) as employers. The petition was filed with the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”), and a four day hearing was held April 14 through 17 at the NLRB offices of Region 7 in Detroit, Michigan. William Thacker and Aimee Gibbs, from Dickinson Wright PLLC, represented Voyageur Academy at the hearings, with support from Jeff Ammons. The Michigan Association for Charter Schools (“MAPSA”) sent a representative to the first day of hearings and was updated daily in preparation to file an amicus brief, if necessary at the close of the hearings.
The Petition Claimed What?
At issue was: (1) whether an educational service provider and a public school academy were joint-employers; and (2) whether a public school academy was a public entity exempt from the jurisdiction of the NLRB. In response, the ESP asserted that the Academy was the sole, or at least a joint, employer of the teachers and staff assigned to work at the Academy. The Union initially believed there was a joint-employer relationship. The Academy claimed that the ESP was the sole employer because the express terms of its ESP contract and the facts present in the case showed that only the ESP had the authority to hire, evaluate, discipline or terminate employees and furthermore set employee wages and benefits. The Academy also contended that because it was a public entity created by the state, it was not subject to the jurisdiction of NLRB.
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