Washington Law Review


Richard Alcorn


Although the Washington State Legislature has enacted several statutes providing for collective bargaining in public employment, until recently it avoided the complex issues arising out of breakdowns in negotiations between local school boards and certificated teachers' representatives. In 1975, after considerable debate and a number of unsuccessful attempts, the legislature adopted the Educational Employment Relations Act (EERA) defining the rights and duties of parties to collective bargaining in the education sector. The measure is a response to the increasing militancy of teachers as a professional employee group, the apparent ineffectiveness of anti-strike injunctions, and the lack of inducements to bargain in good faith. These factors created the need for a more effective and comprehensive approach to the unique problems of labor relations in public education. Unfortunately, the impasse resolution procedures outlined in the statute are an inadequate response to the problems underlying dispute settlement in the education sector. This note evaluates the impasse resolution mechanism provided in the statute and concludes that the approaches employed by the Act will not substantially reduce the judicial role in resolving negotiation impasses. The judicial role in dispute settlement will be examined, particularly with regard to the issuance of injunctions against teachers' strikes, either threatened or in progress. The underlying premise is twofold: (1) school districts should be immune to strikes only when the public health or safety are endangered; and (2) the degree of proof requisite to support injunctive relief from a teachers' strike should reflect such a standard.

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