Most state statutes do not require schools to bargain on issues involving the educational policy of the school board. Many states require school boards and unions to bargain on “wages, hours, and terms and conditions of employment.” Some states limit bargaining to such mandatory issues as benefits, insurance, or sick leave. When a state statute includes mandatory subjects, these subjects must be bargained over at the request of either the school board or the teachers’ union. If either party refuses to negotiate over a mandatory subject, state statutes generally deem this a refusal to negotiate in good faith and, thus, an unfair labor practice.
In the absence of statutory language specifying the scope of collective bargaining, teacher unions and school boards must consult relevant case law in that state to determine if the courts have set forth parameters. Other limitations to collective bargaining may also be present. A collective bargaining agreement, for example, cannot violate or contradict existing statutory law or constitutional provisions. Similarly, the collective bargaining agreement should recognize contract rights that may already exist through other agreements.