Plaintiff, Minneapolis Federation of Teachers, Local 59, brought an action against the Minneapolis Special School District No. 1 seeking a declaratory judgment that the Public Employment Labor Relations Act of 1971 (PELRA), Minn.St. 179.61, et seq., requires the school district's teacher-transfer procedure to be subject to mandatory negotiations. The district court entered judgment favorable to defendant, and plaintiff appeals from that judgment and an order denying a new trial. We reverse and remand to the trial court.
This case presents the following issue:
Is the school district's system governing transfer of teachers required to be negotiated with the teachers' bargaining representative pursuant to PELRA?
Plaintiff is the exclusive bargaining representative under PELRA of approximately 3,500 teachers employed by defendant. Since the adoption of PELRA the parties have been unable to agree whether defendant's transfer methods are subject to the mandatory negotiation requirements of the act or are instead a "meet-and-confer" subject. The parties had, however, agreed on a policy which placed major emphasis on seniority and granted exceptions in certain cases.
In 1971 the Minnesota legislature enacted PELRA. The act is similar in scope and purpose to the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), 29 U.S.C.A., §§ 151 to 168, governing labor relations in the private sector. There are, however, important differences recognizing the special nature of public employment. Strikes, for example, are allowed only under limited circumstances. Minn.St. 179.64. The act imposes
Minn.St. 179.66 provides in part:
Plaintiff contends that something cannot be both a "term and condition of employment" and a matter of "inherent managerial policy." It places primary reliance on § 179.66, subd. 3, which requires a public employer to meet and confer with professional employees on matters not included within § 179.63, subd. 18. By its terms, § 179.66, subd. 3, would not apply to matters which are both "terms and conditions of employment" and "inherent managerial policy." Furthermore, § 179.66, subd. 1, clearly provides that "inherent managerial policy" matters are nonnegotiable, while § 179.66, subd. 2, just as unmistakably provides that "terms and conditions of employment" are negotiable. By so providing, the legislature apparently meant there to be no overlap in the scope of these terms. However, the trial court never held that transfer policy was a "term and condition of employment"; rather, it held that transfer procedures are "personnel policies affecting the working conditions of the employees." This phrase is included in the definition of "terms and conditions of employment," but the last sentence of § 179.63, subd. 18, provides that it is subject to § 179.66. The trial court reasoned that since transfer was a matter of "inherent managerial policy" under § 179.66, subd. 1, it did not come within the definition of "terms and conditions of employment" even though it was a personnel policy affecting working conditions.
Since this case involves statutory interpretation, we are not bound by the trial court's findings and conclusions. Transfer policy is not specifically mentioned in § 179.66, subd. 1, but that subdivision does include "functions and programs of the employer," "organizational structure," and "selection and direction and number of personnel." The question therefore is whether transfers are included in the phrase "selection and direction and number of personnel."
This court has on two previous occasions considered whether a specific matter must be negotiated under PELRA. In International Union of Operating Eng. v. City of Mpls., 305 Minn. 364, 233 N.W.2d 748 (1975), this court held that the city must disclose the answer key to a civil service examination where a number of examinees challenged
Minn.St. 179.66 outlines in very broad terms what managerial policy shall be. Thus, under the phrase "selection and direction and number of personnel," the question is what scope is to be given the word "direction." If the entire section is read, however, it seems clear the legislature intends the board shall have direction over the broad educational objectives of the entire district. There is no doubt the decision to transfer a number of teachers is a managerial decision. The criteria for determining which teachers are to be transferred, however, involves a decision which directly affects a teacher's welfare and enters into a field which we hold is in fact negotiable.
The district appears willing to meet and confer on the transfer implementation, but denies that it must negotiate the issue. The problem which could arise is apparent —one school board might seriously consider the views held by the teachers and their organization, while another might meet and confer pro forma. If all districts must negotiate, input from the teachers' organizations is assured. Both administrators and school boards, on the one hand, and teachers, on the other, must be deemed to have the interests of the students and the school district at heart. Both are competent to recommend changes in policy. We believe the legislature intended that the public would benefit from the contributions of both groups by the passage of this act and that the transfers of individual teachers were intended to be a negotiable item. As we said in International Bro. of Teamsters v. City of Minneapolis, 302 Minn. 410, 414, 225 N.W.2d 254, 257 (1975):
We therefore hold as follows:
2. The adoption of the criteria by which individual teachers may be identified for transfer is a proper subject for negotiation and, as such, is properly included in the collective bargaining contract.
3. To insure that individual teacher transfers conform to the negotiated contract, each individual transfer is a proper subject of grievance arbitration.
Reversed and remanded.
SHERAN, C. J., took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.
WAHL, J., not having been a member of this court at the time of the argument and submission, took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.
On reargument, the court withdraws its opinion of April 22, 1977, and issues this opinion in lieu thereof.