Connecticut Supreme Court upholds case against New Milford school board

May 2, 2019 GMT

NEW MILFORD — The Connecticut Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the teachers union, saying the New Milford Board of Education violated the collective bargaining agreement by extending the workday for teachers on multiple occasions.

The unanimous decision requires the town to compensate members of the New Milford Education Association for 20 hours of additional time they were required to work without pay, according to a press release from the Connecticut Education Association.

A special school board meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday for the board members to meet with their attorney to “discuss and possibly take action concerning the Board’s legal options in light of the 4/30/19 Supreme Court decision.” It is expected to be in executive session.

“This is a huge victory for us and for the teaching profession, and a testament to the incredible power of our union and expertise of CEA’s legal team,” New Milford Education Association President Kim Patella said in the release. “This case has proven that regardless of the number of times a board tries to get a ruling appealed, when we stand together as a unit, part of something we believe in, which is our union, we can prevail.”

The case started in 2015 when the union filed a grievance accusing the school board of violating the collective bargaining agreement by scheduling a number of open houses and evening events, extending the workday, according to the release.

An arbitrator ruled in the union’s favor, but the board filed an application to vacate the grievance arbitration award in Litchfield Superior Court. The Superior Court ruled in favor of the union. The school board brought it to the Connecticut Supreme Court.

“If you have never read a court ruling that is 100 percent in favor of the union, read the Supreme Court ruling in this case,” said CEA UniServ Representative Tom Kennedy, who filed the original grievance four years ago, and has continued to work and support the teachers in New Milford to ensure their rights are protected.

Patella said the teachers couldn’t be happier with the outcome.

“While it has been a long, arduous process, after more than four years, our teachers will be receiving the pay they deserve for the extra hours they were required to work,” she said.

Patella thanked the attorneys for their work.

“We are moving forward as an even stronger Association and we are ready to work with the Board of Education as we continue to enrich the lives of the students in New Milford,” she said.

This story will be updated.