Can Florida school districts impose mandatory unpaid leave?
To cut costs, many Florida school districts including Pinellas and Pasco have considered placing employees on unpaid leave during the 2011-12 school year.
District leaders have said they want to negotiate the furlough details with employee representatives, to keep the process cordial and to avoid further erosion of morale. At the same time, though, they're looking into whether they can force the issue if they need to.
For insights, many district and union officials alike have been reading TEAMSTERS LOCAL UNION NO. 769 AFFILIATED WITH THE INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF TEAMSTERS, Charging Party, v. MARTIN COUNTY BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS (attached below). That February 2011 order by the Public Employees Relations Commission states that, at least in the case of Martin County, the decision to furlough is a political, management move and not subject to bargaining:
"PERC balanced the parties' competing interests before determining that the decision to furlough constituted a management right. It reasoned that the employer's decision as to whether to use furloughs to alleviate economic shortfalls constituted a political decision to be made by elected officials, similar to their decisions regarding other standards of service."
Already Lynne Webb of the United School Employees of Pasco has questioned whether the Martin County case could apply to teacher contracts. Perhaps we'll find out if the sides can't agree.