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07/28/78 SCHOOL COMMITTEE WELLESLEY v. LABOR

July 28, 1978

SCHOOL COMMITTEE OF WELLESLEY
v.
LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION



Suffolk. Two civil actions commenced in the Superior Court on May 7, 1975, and May 29, 1975, respectively. The cases were heard by Bennett, J. The Supreme Judicial Court granted a request for direct appellate review.

Hennessey, C.j., Kaplan, Wilkins, Liacos, & Abrams, JJ.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

School and School Committee. Administrative Agency, Interpretation of statute. Statute, Construction. Words, "Managerial employees."

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Abrams

The Labor Relations Commission did not err in finding that employees in a bargaining unit consisting of school principals, assistant principals, directors, coordinators, and department heads did not "participate to a substantial degree in formulating or determining policy" within the meaning of G. L. c. 150E, § 1 (a). [116-121]

A finding by the Labor Relations Commission that employees in a bargaining unit consisting of school principals, assistant principals, directors, coordinators, and department heads did not "assist to a substantial degree in the preparation for or the conduct of collective bargaining on behalf of a public employer," within the meaning of G. L. c. 150E, § 1 (b), was supported by substantial evidence. [122-123]

A finding by the Labor Relations Commission that secondary school principals in a school system did not have a "substantial responsibility involving the exercise of independent judgment of an appellate responsibility not initially in effect in the administration of a collective bargaining agreement or in personnel administration," within meaning of G. L. c. 150E, § 1 (c), was supported by substantial evidence. [123-126]

The Labor Relations Commission did not err in its resort to legislative history as an aid to determining the meaning of "managerial employees" as used in G. L. c. 150E where the meaning of the statute was neither clear nor unambiguous. [126-127]

By its appeal the school committee of Wellesley (school committee) challenges the correctness of a judgment which affirmed an order and decision of the Labor Relations Commission (commission). The school committee argues that the commission and therefore the court erred as matter of law in determining that the term "managerial employees" as used in G. L. c. 150E did not exclude from statutory coverage a bargaining unit, unit B, consisting of "ll Principals, Assistant Principals, Directors, Coordinators and Department Heads, and no other professional or non-professional employees of the Wellesley Public Schools." *fn1 We affirm the judgment and order entered by the Superior Court.

We summarize the proceedings. For a number of years, the school committee had recognized the Wellesley Teachers Association (association) as the exclusive representative of the unit B employees for the purposes of collective bargaining. After the effective date of G. L. c. 150E, the school committee sought a determination by the commission that all unit B employees were now precluded from collective bargaining on the ground that unit B employees were "managerial" or "confidential" *fn2 employees and therefore not entitled to the collective bargaining rights afforded other public employees by G. L. c. 150E. The association filed a complaint of prohibited practice with the commission alleging that the school committee had refused to bargain collectively in good faith with the association as exclusive representative of the unit B employees. *fn3 After investigation, pursuant to G. L. c. 150E, § 11, the commission issued an interim order on July 16, 1974, consolidating the school committee's petition with the association's complaint, ordering an expedited hearing on the consolidated cases, and directing the parties to bargain in good faith pending resolution of the dispute. *fn4

After extensive hearings, the commission filed a lengthy and detailed decision in which it determined that none of the unit B employees were managerial or confidential employees within the meaning of the statute and concluded that the school committee's refusal to bargain had been unjustified and in violation of G. L. c. 150E, § 10 (a) (1), and § 10 (a) (5). However, the commission found that the school committee had not acted in bad faith. *fn5 The school committee's complaint was dismissed.

In the Superior Court the commission sought enforcement of its order against the school committee. The school committee filed a complaint seeking judicial review of the commission's decision. See G. L. c. 30A, § 14 (7). The cases were consolidated, and the association, through its officers, was permitted to intervene. Cross-motions for summary judgment were filed, and a Judge of the Superior Court allowed the commission's motion, denied the school committee's motion, and entered a judgment affirming the commission's decision and order in its entirety, including an order that the school committee bargain collectively in good faith with the association. The school committee timely filed its claim of appeal, and we granted direct appellate review.

The issues before the court concern the interpretation of the phrase "managerial" employee in G. L. c. 150E, § 1. *fn6 The school committee alleges that the commission erred in its determination that the unit B employees were not managerial employees as matter of law and statutory interpretation.

We agree with the school committee that "he duty of statutory interpretation is for the courts." Cleary v. Cardullo's, Inc., 347 Mass. 337, 344 (1964). We have, however, also recognized that an administrative interpretation of a statute is accorded deference particularly "where, as here, an agency must interpret a legislative policy which is only broadly set out in the governing statute." Consolidated Cigar Corp. v. Department of Pub. Health, 372 Mass. 844, 850 (1977), quoting from School Comm. of Springfield v. Board of ...


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