STATE OF MAINE                                   MAINE LABOR RELATIONS BOARD
                                                       Case No. 77-06

KAREN O'NEIL and M.S.A.D. #64    )
Corinth, County of Penobscot,    )
State of Maine,                  )
               Complainants,     )
            v.                   )                  DECISION AND ORDER
Town of Corinth, County of       )
Penobscot, State of Maine,       )
                Respondents.     )
     This case comes to the Maine Labor Relations Board by way of a Prohibited
Practice Complaint dated August 24, 1976, and filed by Milton R. Wright, Penquis
UniServ District Director, on August 30, 1976.  The Response to the aforesaid
Complaint was filed by Bruce M. Leet, Director of Labor Relations, Maine School
Management Association, on September 21, 1976.
     A pre-hearing conference was held in this matter on Tuesday, October 5, 1976,
at 1 p.m. in the Bureau of Labor Conference Room, Augusta, Maine.  As a result of
the pre-hearing conference, a Pre-Hearing Conference Memorandum and Order was
issued on October 13, 1976, the contents of which are incorporated herein by
reference.  A hearing in this matter was held on Tuesday, November 9, 1976, at
10:30 a.m. in the Jetport Conference Room, Portland, Maine.
     The Maine Labor Relations Board meeting on January 20, 1977, in Portland,
Maine, proceeded to deliberate on this case, Chairman Walter E. Corey presiding
with Michael Schoonjans, Employee Representative, and Robert D. Curley, Employer
     Neither party has challenged the jurisdiction of the Maine Labor Relations
Board in this matter, and we conclude that this Board has jurisdiction to hear
and render a decision in this case as provided in 26 M.R.S.A. Section 968(5).

                                  FINDINGS OF FACT
     Upon review of the testimony given at the hearing, as well as the Pre-
Hearing Conference Memorandum and the pleadings, the Board finds:
               1.  The M.S.A.D. #64 Teachers Association is the
                   recognized bargaining agent for a teachers
                   bargaining unit in M.S.A.D. #64.


               2.  The Board of Directors of M.S.A.D. #64 is the
                   employer of teachers in the teachers bargaining
               3.  Negotiations between the Association and the
                   Board were held on several occasions prior to
                   May 6, 1976.
               4.  On or about May 6, 1976, all outstanding nego-
                   tiable matters were agreed to by the parties
                   or withdrawn by the parties except "just cause."
               5.  The Association filed a Request for Fact Finding
                   Board on May 10, 1976.  Attached to the Request
                   for Fact Finding Board as Exhibit #1, Issue in
                   Controversy, was Just Cause.
               6.  0n June 3, 1976, a Fact Finding Board was assigned
                   by the Maine Labor Relations Board.  A hearing was
                   set for June 16, 1976.
               7.  On June 9, 1976, the Association, by its represen-
                   tative Milton R. Wright, forwarded its brief to the
                   members of the Fact Finding Board, the Maine Labor
                   Relations Board, and Bruce Leet for the Board of
                   Directors, which briefed just cause.
               8.  On or about June 9, 1976, the Board of Directors
                   forwarded its brief to the representative of the
                   Association, Milton R. Wright.
               9.  The Board of Directors in its brief dated June 9,
                   1976, listed Issue #1 - "Just Cause", Issue #2 -
                   Salary, and Issue #3 - Health Insurance.
              10.  By letter dated June 29, 1976, M.S.A.D. #64 Super-
                   intendent Ernest Hughes requested of Karen O'Neil,
                   President of the M.S.A.D. #64 Teachers Association,
                   a meeting for the purpose of pursuing differences
                   in salaries, insurance benefits, and mileage reim-
                   bursements to be held July 8, 1976.
              11.  By letter dated July 1 from President O'Neil to
                   Superintendent Hughes, the Association agreed to
                   meet with the Board on July 8,1976.
              12.  A negotiations session was held on July 8, 1976,
                   between the Board and the Association.  At this
                   July 8, 1976, meeting the Board's Representative,
                   Bruce Leet, reintroduced the issues of salaries,
                   insurance benefits, mileage reimbursement, retire-
                   ment and duration of agreement.
              13.  By letter dated July 30, 1976, Association Repre-
                   sentative Milton R. Wright requested of the Board's
                   Representative Bruce Leet if based on the findings
                   of the Maine Labor Relations Board in M.S.A.D. #38
                   if there was a "change in the position of the Board
                   of Directors in M.S.A.D. #64 as to the withdrawing
                   of tentative agreements."
              14.  At all times material herein, there were no ground
                   rules, written or oral, concerning the effect of
                   tentative agreements.


     Title 26 M.R.S.A. Section 965(1) states "It shall be the obligation
of the public employer and the bargaining agent to bargain collectively.
Collective bargaining means, for the purpose of this chapter, their mutual
obligation...(C) To confer and negotiate in good faith with respect to wages,
hours, working conditions and contract grievance arbitration...."  The pro-
hibited practice complaint in this case charges the Directors with a failure, to
bargain in good faith as required by 26 M.R.S.A. Section 965(1)(C) in violation
of 26 M.R.S.A. Section 964(1)(E) by withdrawing tentative agreements in the
course of negotiations.  There were no ground rules, either written or oral,
concerning the effect of tentative agreements, and the introduction of the
issues of salaries, insurance benefits, mileage reimbursement, retirement and
duration of agreement resulted in a repudiation of issues tentatively agreed to
at prior negotiating sessions.
     In Van Buren Education Association v. Maine School Administrative District
No. 24, MLRB Case #76-08, we found that absent ground rules, a tentative agree-
ment may be a final agreement unless the parties have agreed otherwise in the
ground rules.  To negotiate and renegotiate items without some finality on the
items discussed would result in fruitless marathon bargaining sessions and is
against the policy of promoting agreement through the collective bargaining
process.  It is public policy to encourage the parties to reach final agreement.
Therefore, once an item is agreed to at the bargaining table, the item should
not be reintroduced for negotiation unless the ground rules specifically provide
for its reintroduction.
     In this case the ground rules do not provide for the reintroduction of tenta-
tive agreements and absent a ground rule, we find a strong presumption that the
tentative agreements are binding on the parties.  We conclude that the withdrawal
of the tentative agreement is a failure to bargain in good faith as required by
26 M.R.S.A. Section 965(1)(C) in violation of 26 M.R.S.A. Section 964 (1)(E).
     On the basis of the foregoing findings of fact and by virtue of and pursuant
to the powers granted to the Maine Labor Relations Board by the provisions of
Section 968 of the Municipal Public Employees Labor Relations Act, it is ORDERED:
              1.  That the M.S.A.D. #64 Board of Directors, their
                  representatives, servants and agents, cease and
                  desist from engaging in any of the acts prohibited
                  by 26 M.R.S.A. Section 964(1) and especially from
                  refusing to bargain collectively with the bargain-
                  ing agent of the employees as required by Section
                  965 of the Municipal Public Employees Labor Relations
              2.  That within thirty (30) days from the date of this
                  Order, the parties shall notify, in writing, the
                  Maine Labor Relations Board at its office in Augusta,
                  Maine, of the steps they have taken to comply herewith.


Dated at Augusta, Maine, this 7th day of February, 1977.

                                         MAINE LABOR RELATIONS BOARD
                                         Walter E. Corey, Chairman
                                         Robert D. Curley, Employer Representative
                                         Michael Schoonjans, Employee Representative