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Brookline School Committee vs. Educators Union: Department Of Labor To Hear Case

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Although Brookline educators and the School Committee are on the verge of making three union contracts legally binding, there is one loose end yet.

In November, the School Committee filed a complaint with the state Department of Labor when the union did not bring the first two agreements to its membership for an official ratification vote.

The Department of Labor launched an investigation and found the Brookline School Department might have a case, and recommended taking the case to a hearing.

“Based on the evidence presented during the investigation, I find probable cause to believe that violations occurred,” said Kerry Bonner, an investigator for the state’s Department of Labor Relations in court documents obtained by the TAB, dated Feb.27.

The School Committee alleges that the Educators Union failed to bargain in good faith by holding off on the ratification vote for the teachers unit agreements, a violation of the committee’s rights.

The union’s lawyer denied the allegations in his filing.

Glenn Koochner, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees, said he expected many people across the state would be following what happened next.

“I can’t say that I’ve seen a case like it before,” said Koochner, who was not immediately familiar with the case. “I can tell you that school districts all over the state will be watching it with great interest.”

Following requests for comment, the School Committee’s attorney Liz Valerio, a principal of Deutsch Williams, responded via e-mail.

“After an investigation, the State Department of Labor Relations (“DLR”) found probable cause that the BEU Unit A (Teachers) failed to bargain in good faith with the Brookline School Committee which is a violation of Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 150 E, section 10(b),” she said and referred the reporter to the Department of Labor complaint.

The Educator’s Union attorney Matthew Jones did not respond to phone and email requests for comment in time for publication.

The case comes to the State at a time when labor relations under the Baker administration have been called into question by labor activists.