Teacher’s Unions and Collective Bargaining

In 1935 Congress passed the National Labor Relations Act (Wagner Act), which guarantees the right of private employees to form and join unions to bargain collectively. The vast majority of states have extended this right to public employees, including teachers at public school districts. Many states require school districts to bargain collectively with teachers who have formed a union. Other states require districts to meet with teachers’ representatives. Some states expressly prohibit collective bargaining by public school teachers or other public employees.

A wide range of provisions may be negotiated in collective bargaining between teachers’ unions and school districts. Some subjects are mandatory, while others are merely permitted or even prohibited. State law governs the appropriateness of subjects to be bargained. The following are some of the matters that are often the subject of this bargaining:

  • Academic freedom
  • Curriculum
  • Wages and salaries
  • Training
  • Hours, workload, and teaching responsibilities
  • Tenure and probationary period
  • Promotion
  • Reappointment
  • Reclassification and reduction
  • Evaluation procedures
  • Grievance procedures
  • Personnel files
  • Student discipline
  • Retirement benefits
  • Sick leave
  • Leaves and sabbaticals

Inside Teacher’s Unions and Collective Bargaining