STATE OF MAINE                                     MAINE LABOR RELATIONS BOARD
                                                   Case No. 80-10

                Complainant,        )
  v.                                )
Town of Medway, and                 )
EDWARD M. SAVAGE, Superintendent    )
of Schools, Town of Medway,         )
                Respondents.        )

     The Medway Teachers Association ("Association") filed this prohibited
practice complaint on October 15, 1979.  The Medway School Committee and
Edward M. Savage filed a response.  A pre-hearing conference was held on
November 13, 1979, by Alternate Chairman Donald W. Webber, who issued a Pre-
Hearing Conference Memorandum and Order dated November 19, 1979, the contents
of which are incorporated herein by reference.

     The matter was heard by the Maine Labor Relations Board ("Board") on
December 12, 1979, Chairman Edward H. Keith presiding, with Alternate Employee
Representative Harold S. Noddin and Alternate Employer Representative Thacher
E. Turner.  The Association was represented by Milton R. Wright, Maine
Teachers Association, and the School Committee and Edward Savage by Dean A.
Beaupain, Esq.  The representatives waived briefs and made oral argument to
the Board at the conclusion of the hearing.


     Jurisdiction of the Board to hear and decide this case lies in Section
968(5) of the Municipal Public Employees Labor Relations Act ("the Act"),
26 M.R.S.A.  968(5).

                               FINDINGS OF FACT

     1.  Complainant Association is the recognized "bargaining agent" for
         a bargaining unit of teachers in the employ of the Medway School
         Committee, the "public employer."  See 26 M.R.S.A.  962(2);
          962(7).  Norman Thompson, Jr., Robert Pelkey, Harold Beatham,
         Paul Snowman, and Norman Thompson, Sr., are the members of the
         School Committee.  Edward M. Savage is the Superintendent of
         Schools of School Union 113 which includes the Towns of Medway,
         East Millinocket, and Woodville, and he is the Secretary of the
         School Committee.  He is a public employer acting on behalf of
         the School Committee.

     2.  A collective bargaining agreement was in effect between the Associa-
         tion and the School Committee from September 1, 1977, to August 31,
         1979.  Negotiations for a successor agreement for the period Septem-
         ber 1, 1979, to August 31, 1981, concluded with a tentative agreement
         on all issues including health insurance at a bargaining session held


         on May 30, 1979.  The agreement was contingent upon a ratification
         vote by the teachers.  There was no other contingency by explicit
         agreement and understanding.

     3.  The teachers voted to ratify the tentative agreement (19-1 in favor)
         on June 4, 1979, and notified the Superintendent by phone of this
         fact immediately thereafter.  Although the current and past ground
         rule agreements provided for notice of ratification by notarized
         statement, that rule had been disregarded in the past and the notice
         and verity of the ratification vote was not contested on this occa-
         sion.  Savage and Association Negotiation Team Chairman Robert
         Bouchard met on June 15, 1979, and reviewed all the details of the

     4.  The ratified agreement contained a health insurance provision for
         full-family coverage.  Both sides had proposed this.  The expiring
         1977 agreement had also provided for full-family coverage.

     5.  On June 20, 1979, the voters at the Town Meeting voted to reduce the
         "fixed charges" line account of the proposed School Committee budget
         by $5,000.  This line account item includes health insurance for
         teachers and a few other employees, fire insurance,and an unemploy-
         ment insurance allocation.  The reduction did not leave enough money
         to pay full-family coverage for the teachers without underinsuring
         school property in violation of state statutes.  The tenor of the
         Town Meeting cut-back vote was dissatisfaction with the provision
         for full-family coverage.

     6.  A similar Town Meeting vote had transpired in 1978.  In that year,
         however, the School Committee chose to honor the existing 1977-79
         collective bargaining agreement provision for full-family coverage
         by overdrawing the line account.

     7.  Prior to the next School Committee meeting after the 1979 cut-back
         vote, the Association requested to meet and consult with the Committee
         regarding the budget cut-back.  This was accomplished at the School
         Committee meeting of July 12, 1979.  The Association lodged its ob-
         jections to any change in the agreement.  The School Committee asked
         Bouchard if the Association wanted to renegotiate the agreement and
         also if the discussion satisfied the Association's meet-and-consult
         request.  Bouchard did not indicate that the Association wanted to
         renegotiate the agreement and objected to the proposed action of the
         Committee to change the agreed-upon insurance coverage.  Bouchard
         did acknowledge that the discussion had satisfied his request for an
         opportunity to consult prior to planned Committee action in response
         to the cut-back.  The School Committee then decided to reduce the
         health insurance coverage of the teachers to single subscriber.

     8.  After this meeting and before Savage had prepared a typed copy of
         the agreement, Bouchard told Savage that he would not sign a copy of
         the agreement unless it included the agreed-upon full-family coverage.

     9.  Association representatives also attended the School Committee meeting
         of September 13, 1979.  A typed copy of the changed version of the
         agreement was available.  The Association was again asked if the
         Association wanted to renegotiate the agreement.  The Association
         again objected to the change, maintained its position that it did not
         want to renegotiate the unchanged agreement and indicated its inten-
         tion to file a prohibited practice complaint regarding the School
         Committee's conduct.  At no time did the School Committee propose to
         renegotiate the agreement or acknowledge that the agreement was bind-

    10.  By letter dated September 13, 1979, the Association requested of
         Savage that a correct copy of the agreement be signed in accordance
         with the negotiations.  Savage did not do so and instead offered on
         September 18, 1979, a copy of an agreement which contained single
         subscriber coverage only.  The Association refused to sign this
         changed agreement.


     11.  Article V of the 1979-81 Agreement, entitled "Salaries," provides:
          "The School Committee reserves the right: . . . (2) In the event
          sufficient funds are not appropriated to implement this contract,
          its terms shall be subject to renegotiation."


     The Association urges that the School Committee has violated 26 M.R.S.A.
 964(1)(E) by changing the agreement when reducing it to writing and by uni-
laterally reducing the health insurance benefit for teachers from full-family
to single subscriber.  26 M.R.S.A.  965(1)(C) and (D) are relevant here.

     The School Committee urges that financial and legal strictures left it
no choice but to undertake to reduce the health insurance coverage and that
the Association was asked to renegotiate the agreement but refused.

     We conclude that the School Committee has violated the Act for both
reasons advanced by the Association.

     The tentative agreement reached on May 20, 1979, was clearly conditioned
on only one contingency, a favorable ratification vote by the teachers, and
this conclusion was not seriously contested.  As soon as that vote transpired
and the School Committee was notified of it, a binding agreement existed.
Section 965(1)(D) of the Act makes it an absolute obligation to execute this
agreement in writing.  The Association requested such and the School
Committee refused to do so.  Thus the School Committee has failed to bargain
collectively and has violated 26 M.R.S.A.  964(1)(F) which prohibits such

     The School Committee has not asked the Association to renegotiate the
agreement.  The interchanges between the parties at the two School Committee
meetings were not requests by the School Committee to renegotiate the agree-
ment as argued.  Rather, the School Committee only asked if the Association
wanted to renegotiate the agreement.  The difference is important as it has
legal consequences.

     If the Committee feels it can invoke Article V(A)(2) of the agreement
because of insufficient funding, it should do so after executing the written
version of the ratified agreement.  The Committee should be clear that the
burden is not on the Association to request renegotiation; the Association
does not want to change its bargained and still binding agreement and has
objected to any unilateral change by the Committee.  The burden is on the
Committee to comply with the law, that is, to sign a written version of the
May 30, 1979, agreement and to abide by the terms of that agreement until
such time as they are changed by bilateral agreement or otherwise.

     The actual reduction of the health insurance benefit is also a unilateral
change in the collectively bargained working conditions and as such violates
26 M.R.S.A.  964(1)(E) through 26 M.R.S.A.  965(1)(C) which prohibits
unilateral changes.  See, e.g., Easton Teachers Association v. Easton School
Committee, MLRB No. 79-14 (March 13, 1979).

     There is no evidence that Respondent Savage has acted other than at the
direction of the School Committee and the complaint is dismissed as against



     The Association members are entitled to the benefits of the agreement
struck on May 30, 1979, (as ratified) from September 1, 1979, until such time
as the agreement is modified or expires.  Accordingly, we will direct the
Committee to reinstitute the full-family coverage immediately and in order to
restore the situation as nearly as possible to that which would have obtained
had the Committee abided by the working conditions set forth in the agreement,
we will direct that the Committee make an unconditional offer to reimburse
each employee in the bargaining unit for what the employee actually paid to
maintain two-person or family health insurance coverage or what the employee
would have paid for full coverage with the School Committee's carrier, which-
ever is greater.  The acceptance of such payment will not necessarily consti-
tute a waiver of any claim for other expenses incurred during the term of the
noncoverage that may be raised in another forum.  The period of reimbursement
shall run from September 1, 1979, until either the benefit is restored or the
agreement is modified.

     If the Association and Committee cannot agree as to the amounts due under
this order within thirty days from date, the Association may apply for an
order for a specific amount by affidavit and written argument postmarked
within 40 days and the Committee may similarly respond within 50 days.


     1.  Respondent Medway School Committee, its members, and successors,
         agents and representatives, shall cease and desist from refusing
         to bargain collectively with the Medway Teachers Association by
         failing to execute in writing any agreements arrived at or by
         makinq unilateral changes in wages, hours, working conditions
         or contract grievance arbitration as prohibited by 26 M.R.S.A.
          965(1)(C) and (D).

     2.  Respondent Medway School Committee must take the affirmative
         action of:

           (a)  immediately reinstituting full family or two-
                person coverage as appropriate for the employees
                in this bargaining unit;

           (b)  making an unconditional offer to reimburse each
                of the affected employees for what they actually
                paid to maintain two-person or family health in-
                surance coverage or what they would have paid for
                full coverage had they utilized the School Com-
                mittee's carrier, whichever is greater.  The
                period of reimbursement shall run from September 1,
                1979, until either the benefit is restored or the
                agreement is modified.  If the Association does
                not agree that the proper amounts due under this
                order have been unconditionally offered within
                thirty days from date, it may apply to the Board
                for a supplemental order for a specific amount by
                submitting affidavits and written argument postmarked
                no later than forty days from date.  The Committee
                may respond in similar fashion within fifty days
                from date.


Dated at Augusta, Maine, this 10th day of January, 1980.

                                      MAINE LABOR RELATIONS BOARD

                                      Edward H. Keith

                                      Harold S. Noddin
                                      Alternate Employee Representative

                                      Thacher E. Turner
                                      Alternate Employer Representative