Friday, May 17, 2013


In response to HSSU Board of Regents failure to appear at a proposed meeting to begin negotiations, the law firm of Schuchat, Cook & Werner on behalf of Missouri NEA and HSSU-NEA issued a “demand letter” to the HSSU Board of Regents on May 16, 2013.  The letter informs them of their legal obligation to agree to meet with representatives of HSSU-NEA to begin negotiations that will lead to a collective bargaining agreement for regular full time HSSU faculty excluding deans by June 1, 2013.
Schuchat, Cook & Werner cite a recent Missouri Supreme Court decision where the court held in the Independence National Education Association case “that public employees have the right under Article I, §29 of the Missouri Constitution to organize and bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing.”  The demand letter also notes that The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) “has verified that a majority of the full-time faculty of Harris-Stowe, excluding deans, have signed cards authorizing HSSU-NEA to serve as their exclusive bargaining representative with respect to their terms and conditions of employment.” Schuchat, Cook & Werner further argue that the Missouri Supreme Court’s Fraternal Order of Police cases decided in November, 2012, “make clear that the University now has the duty to recognize and bargain with  HSSU-NEA.”  

In addition to maintaining that the HSSU Board of Regents has a legal obligation to bargain with HSSU-NEA in good faith, the demand letter contests the assertion by the regents that they can recognize the HSSU faculty senate in lieu of HSSU-NEA.  Schuchat, Cook & Werner refer to a resolution adopted by the HSSU Faculty May 3, 2013, which stated that “the senate is not the elected body to collectively bargain for the terms and conditions of employment for the regular full-time faculty.”  The demand letter goes on to quote the ruling in the Independence NEA case that collective bargaining entails “negotiations between an employer and the representatives of organized employees to reach an agreement regarding the conditions of employment.”  According to Schuchat, Cook & Werner, the Bylaws of the Faculty Senate do not authorize negotiations with the University for the purpose of reaching agreement on terms and conditions of employment.  In their words, the Bylaws “merely authorize Senators, elected from each College, to discuss among themselves topics of interest to faculty and students.” 

The letter concludes by arguing that “the University does not get to decide who represents its full-time faculty; the faculty do” and notes that if the University continues to refuse to recognize and bargain with HSSU-NEA as the exclusive representative of its full-time faculty, excluding deans, “HSSU-NEA will have no choice but to file suit to compel recognition and bargaining.” 

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