SJC Rules “15% Rule” is Enforceable

October 7, 2019

This morning the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court contacted MTA Attorney Laurie Houle to let her know that there was a decision in the “15% Rule” case that the SJC heard in February, 2019. Laurie tried be case as an intervener with General Counsel for the Commonwealth Employee Relations Board, Jane Gabriel.

We understand that some MSCA part-time faculty have viewed the rule as an effort to remove them from the classroom, that is not our motivation. The MSCA’s position has been and remains, minimizing the number of low-paying, non-benefited positions within the day bargaining unit.

It is worth pointing out that the SJC notes in their decision that limiting low-paying faculty positions does not conflict with the BHE’s authority, nor does it inhibit the BHE’s ability to provide students with a high-quality education in a cost-effective manner, as they state:

“Nor does § C(10) materially conflict with the BHE’s more general authority to set educational policy. In arguing that § C(10) intrudes on this authority, the BHE contends that limiting the number of courses taught by part-time faculty, who are less expensive to employ than full-time faculty, requires the colleges to sacrifice other objectives and inhibits the ability to provide students with a high-quality education in a cost-effective manner. But if we were to hold that these financial considerations rendered § C(10) an intrusion on nondelegable authority, we would be hard-pressed to discern any limiting principle. Any provision or any given collective bargaining agreement could potentially affect the way an employer allocates funds by, for example, requiring the employer to pay higher wages than it otherwise would have, thus diverting resources away from the employer’s other objectives. The collective bargaining agreement at issue does not usurp managerial authority merely by requiring the colleges to balance competing obligations within certain parameters.”

The “15% Rule” is likely to be a topic or discussion at successor negotiations that will begin in January, 2020.

CJ O’Donnell
MSCA President