Appeal from Award of arbitrator in case of In Re: Arbitration between Central Dauphin School District and Central Dauphin Education Association over Fringe Benefits during Sabbatical Leave, dated June 10, P.L. 1976.
James F. Carl, with him Metzger, Wickersham, Knauss & Erb, for appellant.
Thomas W. Scott, with him John D. Killian, and Killian & Gephart, for appellee.
Michael I. Levin, with him Cleckner & Fearen, for amicus curiae, Pennsylvania School Boards Association.
Judges Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr. and Rogers, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Wilkinson.
The issue presented here is whether an arbitrator erred in ordering reimbursement for fringe benefits, which a teacher on sabbatical leave was required to pay, although a collective bargaining agreement provided such benefits to "regularly employed teachers." We find no error.
A professional employee of appellant for nineteen years was granted sabbatical leave for the second half of the 1975-76 school year. Under a collective bargaining agreement adopted by appellant and appellee, appellant was required to provide life, dental and major medical health care insurance for "all members of the bargaining unit,"*fn1 a term defined in the agreement as including "regularly employed teachers under contract to the District."*fn2 The agreement did not expressly state whether a professional employee on sabbatical leave was to be considered a "regularly employed
teacher" for coverage purposes. Sabbatical leave was mentioned only in a provision that a teacher on an unpaid leave of absence would receive credit toward sabbatical eligibility as if such unpaid leave had never been taken.*fn3
Upon inquiry by the employee, appellant stated that the Public School Code of 1949*fn4 did not require payment of fringe benefits to professional employees on sabbatical leave and that scuh employees did not come within the agreement's definition of "regularly employed teachers." The employee then instituted grievance proceedings pursuant to the agreement. The grievance was denied at all steps until the final step of binding arbitration was reached. Meanwhile, the employee went on sabbatical leave and appellant paid him one-half salary*fn5 but deducted premiums for the medical and dental insurance and allowed the life insurance to lapse.*fn6
After a hearing, the arbitrator decided that the Public School Code neither required nor forbade payment of fringe benefits to a professional employee on sabbatical leave and that the answer lay "within the four corners of the contract." Noting that the agreement distinguished between personnel regularly employed, and those on unpaid leave of absence, the arbitrator decided that since the employee ...