This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Independent School District No. 1,
Filed April 25, 2006
Aitkin County District Court
File No. C3-04-834
Rebecca H. Hamblin, Education
Maggie R. Wallner, Kennedy &
Graven, Chartered, 470
Considered and decided by Willis, Presiding Judge; Stoneburner, Judge; and Collins, Judge.*
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Appellant challenges the district court’s order denying its motion to compel arbitration. Because we conclude that the matter in dispute was not within the scope of the arbitration agreement, we affirm.
Ferrari works for respondent Independent School District No. 1,
Education Minnesota-Aitkin (Education Minnesota) filed a grievance on behalf of
Ferrari after she received notice of the reassignment. The district’s collective bargaining
agreement (CBA) provides a grievance procedure that includes the right to
arbitrate certain disputes. Education
a judicial proceeding to compel or stay arbitration, the district court must
ascertain the intention of the parties from the language of the arbitration
agreement. Local No. 1119, AFSCME v.
Mesabi Reg’l Med. Ctr., 463 N.W.2d 290, 295 (
The CBA does not define “terms and conditions of employment,” but it does provide that “[t]erms not defined in this Agreement shall have those meanings as defined by the P.E.L.R.A.” Art. III, sec. 3. The Public Employment Labor Relations Act (PELRA) defines “terms and conditions of employment” as:
the hours of employment, the compensation therefor including fringe benefits except retirement contributions or benefits other than employer payment of, or contributions to, premiums for group insurance coverage of retired employees or severance pay, and the employer’s personnel policies affecting the working conditions of the employees. In the case of professional employees the term does not mean educational policies of a school district. “Terms and conditions of employment” is subject to section 179A.07.
Minn. Stat. § 179A.03, subd. 19 (2004). Section 179A.07, in turn, provides that
[a] public employer is not required to meet and negotiate on matters of inherent managerial policy. Matters of inherent managerial policy include, but are not limited to, such areas of discretion or policy as the functions and programs of the employer, its overall budget, utilization of technology, the organizational structure, selection of personnel, and direction and the number of personnel.
Minnesota Supreme Court has noted that “[t]he decision to transfer a number of
teachers is a managerial decision.”
Here, article V, section 5 of the CBA provides that “[t]he superintendent will consider seniority, major and minor fields of study, and other pertinent criteria when assigning teachers.” It does not describe how these criteria are to be weighed. The rest of article V, section 5 describes the procedure by which a transfer will be made, and Education Minnesota does not assert that the district failed to follow that procedure.
There is no express agreement in the CBA to arbitrate the superintendent’s decision to transfer a teacher to another position. Because the CBA fails to articulate how to weigh the criteria to be considered in transferring a teacher and because such transfers are generally within the inherent managerial authority of the superintendent, we conclude that it is not reasonably debatable that the CBA expresses an intent to arbitrate the substance of a transfer decision. Further, Education Minnesota has not asserted that the superintendent misinterpreted or misapplied any “terms and conditions of employment” regarding the CBA’s transfer provision. Nothing in the CBA shows that the parties intended to make a transfer of this kind arbitrable.
Next, Education Minnesota argues that (1) the CBA’s arbitration agreement covers teacher discipline; (2) because the district and Education Minnesota dispute whether Ferrari’s reassignment was disciplinary, the matter is reasonably debatable; and (3) therefore, the district court erred as a matter of law by denying the motion to compel arbitration.
From an examination of the CBA’s language, the language of Education Minnesota’s written grievance, and the undisputed facts, we agree that Education Minnesota’s complaint fails to state an arbitrable grievance regarding the application of the district’s disciplinary procedures to Ferrari. The application of disciplinary policies affects the working conditions of teachers, and is, therefore, a term or condition of employment. See Local 59, 258 N.W.2d at 805 (noting that employee suspensions are not matters of inherent managerial policy and affect the working conditions of employees). Here, the CBA provides that “[n]o teacher shall be disciplined except for just cause. The parties agree that the principles of progressive discipline and basic due process will be followed including, but not limited to, verbal warning, written warning, suspension and discharge.” Art. V, sec. 9.
Conflicting contentions regarding the scope of the arbitration agreement may demonstrate that it is reasonably debatable that the parties intended to submit a dispute to arbitration. Local No. 1119, 463 N.W.2d at 296. But Education Minnesota’s analysis, which concludes that this dispute is arbitrable because the parties disagree about whether Ferrari’s reassignment was disciplinary, would lead to the illogical result that every disagreement could be made arbitrable by merely asserting the existence of the disagreement.
CBA defines “teacher” as “all persons in the appropriate unit employed by the
School District in a position for which the person must be licensed by the
the district imposed a licensure requirement for the high-school tutorial
position; therefore, the position was a teaching position. Education
We conclude, therefore, that the district court did not err by denying Education Minnesota’s motion to compel arbitration.
* Retired judge of the district court, serving as judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.