Circuit Court Issues Preliminary Injunction Halting Administration and Enforcement of HB 1413
As many of you are aware, there is currently a court case pending in the Circuit Court of St. Louis involving the constitutionality of HB 1413 – Missouri National Education Association, et al. v. Missouri Department of Labor & Industrial Relations, et al.. The case was brought by several different labor unions, including MNEA, against the Department of Labor and the State Board of Mediation. Earlier today, the Court issued a preliminary injunction against the Department of Labor and the State Board of Mediation, which effectively prohibits both entities from administering or enforcing any provision of HB 1413. We have provided a link to the full order here, but instead of explaining the order in detail we will instead address what this means for school districts going forward.
A preliminary injunction is mechanism that can be used by a court to preserve the status quo until a full trial can be held. It is frequently issued when the harm in not issuing it is outweighed by the harm in doing so. In this case, the court found that it was necessary to prevent HB 1413 from being administered or enforced until a full trial can be held. This does not mean, however, that HB 1413 is no longer the law and that districts and labor unions do not have to follow it. Instead, the practical effect of this order is that neither the Department of Labor nor the State Board of Mediation will take any actions to implement or enforce the law at this time. So those organizations that are in the process of applying for certification as a labor organization, or plan to do so in the near future, will not be able to obtain that certification at this time. Similarly, there will be no enforcement of HB 1413 against those individuals or organizations that attempt to bargain with public employers without first obtaining certification.
Because of these immediate effects, one might think that it is back to business as usual when it comes to bargaining, and that districts can proceed as they would have before HB 1413 was signed into law. Keep in mind though that this injunction is only preliminary. Not only can it be removed after a full hearing on the merits of the lawsuit, but it can also be overturned by the Missouri Court of Appeals or the Missouri Supreme Court. Additionally, the injunction does not invalidate HB 1413 completely. It is still the law; there just isn’t anyone to administer it or enforce it. Like we said though, that can change quickly. Therefore, our recommendation is that districts continue to deal with their employees in the context of bargaining as they have been since HB 1413 was passed into law. This will protect both the district and the employees in the event that the injunction is later vacated. If that occurs, then the Department of Labor and the State Board of Mediation will have the authority to resume administration and enforcement of HB 1413, whether or not the actions at issue took place when the injunction was in effect.
We will continue to review and analyze the court’s order to determine if there are any other matters that warrant more discussion. In the meantime though, if you have any questions regarding this latest development or any other bargaining matter, please contact Duane Martin.