The opinion of the court was delivered by: LASKER
This case poses the question whether the New York State Labor Board ("SLRB") may oversee labor relations involving parochial schools and lay teachers without violating the constitutional guarantees of religious freedom.
Both defendants and plaintiff move for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Plaintiff's summary judgment motion is granted and defendants' cross-motion is denied.
The Catholic High School Assocation ("Association") manages and operates eleven Roman Catholic secondary schools within the Archdiocese of New York. It is a not-for-profit corporation organized under the New York State Education Law. The Association is governed by ten trustees, all of whom are officials in the Archdiocese of New York. In addition, the Association's officers are all Roman Catholic priests.
There is much evidence of the religious character of the schools operated by the Association. The parties have agreed that they are "church-operated" as that term was applied by the Supreme Court in NLRB v. Catholic Bishop of Chicago,
and the faculty handbooks of the schools are filled with references to their religious missions. For instance, the handbook for Cardinal Spellman High School describes Cardinal Spellman as:
"a Roman Catholic school dedicated to serving young men and women through a program of learning which emphasizes the essentials: personal Christian development as exemplified in the life and mission of Jesus mediated by the Church; the stimulation of innate creativity; the development of emotional maturity; and a sense of commitment to the Church, the community, the nation, the world."
Similarly, among the objectives described in the Moore High School handbook is the following:
"We realize our philosophical beliefs within the framework of a Catholic environment.Thus we hold as important:
1. to provide our students with a knowledge of their religious heritage by offering a course of study based on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
2. to make available religious services and observances.
3. to accept the sharing of corporate responsibility in implementing our philosophy and objectives."
The faculty of the Association's schools consists of both lay and religious teachers. For example, there are three priests, thirteen Sisters of the Divine, and twenty-four lay teachers on the John F. Kennedy High School Faculty.
Lay faculty teach both secular and religious subjects, as do the priests and religious teachers, and they are intimately involved in the fulfillment of the pervasive religious purpose of the Association's schools.
The Lay Faculty Association ("LFA") is a labor organization which represents 343 lay teachers employed by the Association as their exclusive certified bargaining representative. Its members are lay faculty only, and its by-laws preclude religious teachers from joining the union.
In November 1980, the LFA filed with the SLRB charges alleging that the Association had engaged in unfair labor practices within the meaning of the New York State Labor Relations Act ("SLRA")
because it had allegedly discouraged membership in the LFA by writing letters to individual teachers and by suspending 226 teachers for protesting the Association's implementation of a new teacher substitution policy. Following an SLRB investigation into these allegations, the Association was served with a formal unfair labor practice complaint on December 11, 1981. The Association then commenced this action seeking a declaratory judgment and an injunction against the SLRB on the grounds that the SLRA's assertion of jurisdiction over the Association violates the First Amendment's religion clauses and that the National Labor Relations Act ("NLRA")
preempts state action in this area.
The Association initially asserts that because secular and religious aspects of education intermingle in its schools, the SLRA requirements of mandatory and good faith collective bargaining over a wide variety of subjects burden its free exercise of religion. The argument is that the mandatory bargaining provision
burdens religion because it limits the Association's power to make religious decisions that affect the administration of its schools.
Furthermore, it is claimed that the SLRB's power to investigate the good faith motives of Association decisions affecting lay teachers also burdens religion. The Association argues that while state interests in public health and safety have on occasion been held sufficiently compelling to justify burdening religion, the state ...