MISSOURI SUPREME COURT RECOGNIZES PUBLIC EMPLOYEES’ COLLECTIVE BARGAINING RIGHTS

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On Tuesday, May 29, 2007, the Missouri Supreme Court handed down its long-awaited decision in the case. Independence-National Education Association v. Independence School District, 223 S.W.3d 131, (Mo. banc 2007). In an opinion authored by Chief Justice Michael Wolff, the Court overruled two earlier Supreme Court decisions, one dating from 1947, City of Springfield v. Clouse, 206 S.W.2d 539 (Mo. banc 1947), and a second from 1982, Sumter v. City of Moberly, 645 S.W.2d 359 (Mo. banc 1982).

In its Independence School District decision, the Missouri Supreme Court made four key holdings:

• Missouri public employees have the right to “bargain collectively.”

• The right to bargain collectively extends to all classifications of public employees, including employee groups that are not covered by the current public sector labor law. R.S.Mo. §105.500, et seq.

• Missouri public employers must bargain collectively with the representatives of their employees, but they need not reach agreement as to any specific proposal made by the representative.

• Agreements between public employers and employee representatives are enforceable contracts and may not unilaterally be repudiated by the public body.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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