There are still two bills before the General Assembly that would authorize collective bargaining for public employees, including school board employees.
HB582 (Guzman) would require public employers, including school boards, to engage in collective bargaining with employee organizations. This bill gives school boards no discretion.
SB939 (Saslaw) is permissive and would allow local governing bodies, including school boards, to authorize collective bargaining. Even though this bill is permissive, there are still problems with this bill. For example, the bill is ambiguous regarding which body – the local school board or the local governing body – can authorize collective bargaining. Even more troubling, the bill arguably permits teacher strikes (while maintaining the ban or law enforcement and other public employee strikes).
HB582 passed the House of Delegates and crossed over to the Senate. Earlier this week, the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee conformed the bill to the language of SB939 as it passed the Senate (in other words, the Committee changed HB582 to the permissive language) and reported and rereferred the bill to the Senate Finance Committee.
SB939 passed the Senate and crossed over to the House. Earlier this week, the House Labor and Commerce Committee conformed the bill to the language of HB582 as it passed the House (in other words, the Committee changed SB939 to the mandatory language) and reported and rereferred the bill to the House Appropriations Committee.
Put another way, the House is sticking with its mandatory language and the Senate is sticking with its permissive language. It is likely that both bills will end up in conference, where a small group of legislators will work out the differences between the bills.
VSBA opposes both forms of these bills. VSBA has Legislative Position, 4.3, to oppose any legislation which would permit or expand the authority of any school board to engage in collective bargaining. Click here and here to see more about our arguments against these bills.