In recent years, the overall legal framework for teacher-school collective bargaining has remained largely the same. Laws in approximately 35 states continue to authorize collective bargaining for public school teachers, with the remaining state laws either silent or prohibitive. Wisconsin’s curtailing amendments under Governor Scott Walker constitute the major exception. Although Wisconsin’s highest court ruled that these amendments did not violate the state constitution, public sector unions more recently filed suit to challenge them under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Additionally, the Supreme Court’s June 2018 ruling that agency shop provisions in public sector collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) violate the First Amendment is likely to erode the power of teacher unions, although the extent of the erosion is speculative at this point.
The majority of these 35 states include grievance procedures as mandatory subjects of bargaining. Yet, despite its importance as the culminating, binding, and third-party step in the grievance process under CBAs, teacher-board arbitration has received very limited
empirical attention. Although legal scholarship continues apace with regard to arbitration much more generally without specifically focusing on the CBA context, much less the teacher-school board subsector, and an occasional study has examined grievance arbitration awards for one or more issues within the public school sector, judicial review of teacher-school board grievance arbitration has escaped relatively recent and systematic scholarship.