in: News & Features

January 7, 2011

Longy Vs Longy in Split Decision

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In a decision dated January 4th in United States District Court, Judge Patti B. Saris has ordered the reinstatement of eight fired members of the Longy faculty (who were eligible for union membership) whom she believes were terminated without proper process in a manner that caused them harm and also damaged the Longy Faculty Union during the period of its formation. She also has ordered Longy to bargain over certain consequences of its ongoing restructuring, but  declined to order Longy to reverse other changes which the Union claims were made without required bargaining. She further declined to require Longy to restore the eight to their former teaching assignments but is nevertheless requiring Longy to pay them what they would have made had they not been terminated. She also declined to require the restoration of Longy’s Community Programs chairs. Her remedies remain in force until the complete case of NLRB vs Longy School of Music is heard. Hearings begin on January 24 though a decision will be many months in the future.

The following are the main points of Judge Saris’s decision:

There was a likelihood of success on the merits that Longy had committed at least one unfair labor practice.

Longy did not have a duty to bargain over whether to move to a core faculty structure or pursue a merger with Bard.

However, Longy did have to bargain over the effects of that structural decision, for example, how many teachers to dismiss or reassign; and how affected teachers would be handled within the new structure, for example by giving them an opportunity to commit to more hours.

There was insufficient evidence that Longy’s statements about joining the union were coercive, though further evidence could be produced at the later hearing.

There was no irreparable harm done to employees by the changes Longy made to its health benefits, but there was irreparable harm in the terminations and reassignments, justifying a reinstatement order.

However, Longy is not required to reassign teachers to the same student assignments they had, since much of the year has already passed. The order therefore is limited to reinstatement and return of the terminated employees to the bargaining unit.

In conclusion the judge writes:

“The Longy School of Music must be free to cultivate itself as an improved institution that better serves its students and the community, but it cannot pursue this transformation without regard to the bargaining rights of its employees.

“The Court orders that Longy engage in bargaining over the effects of its decision to restructure the faculty. The Court also orders Longy to reinstate with pay the eight members of the bargaining unit who were notified of their terminations in March 2010. The Court denies without prejudice any relief with respect to former CP chairs.”

The entire 38 page injunction may be read here.

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