Vermont Firefighters File Brief In Support of NEA To Keep Bargaining Out of Public Meetings

October 4, 2017

Late last week, the Professional Fire Fighters of Vermont, IAFF, AFL-CIO (PFFV) filed a brief in the Vermont Supreme Court in support of the Vermont NEA, which is fighting attempts by local school boards to force negotiations to take place in open meetings. The PFFV filed a so-called "friend of the court" brief to help educate the Court about the practical and public policy considerations that require negotiations to take place away from the glare of public scrutiny, particularly since the public body would have to bring any tentative agreements into open meeting in order to accept and approve them.

The case arose out of cross charges filed with the Vermont Labor Relations Board after a school board demanded that negotiations with its employees' unions be conducted in open meeting with the press and the public invited. While the VLRB ultimately dismissed all the charges, it held very clearly that negotiation sessions are not meetings within the meaning of the Vermont Open Meetings law and that the school board could not force the bargaining to take place in public without the Union's agreement. The school board appealed to the Vermont Supreme Court. The decision will have wide ranging impacts on any public sector union that negotiates with a public body such a school board, a selectboard, or a board of trustees.

Pyle Rome attorney Leah Barrault is counsel to the PFFV, and her partner Al Gordon O'Connell wrote the brief on behalf of the Union. The brief contains a comprehensive appendix relating to the public sector bargaining laws in all 50 states.

Related Attorney: 
Alfred Gordon O'Connell
Related Attorney: 
Leah M. Barrault