William K. Eckel, Johnstown, for appellant.
Donetta W. Ambrose, New Kensington, for appellee.
Jones, C. J., and Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy and Manderino, JJ. Pomeroy and Roberts, JJ., filed concurring opinions. Eagen, C. J., concurred in the result. Jones, former C. J., did not participate in the decision of this case. Nix, J., did not participate in the consideration or decision of this case.
The issue in this appeal is whether the Commonwealth Court erred in reversing an arbitrator's award in a dispute
submitted to binding arbitration pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement.
The appellant, Leechburg Education Association (Association) is the exclusive bargaining agent for the professional employees of the Leechburg Area School District, and was duly selected under the provisions of the Public Employe Relations Act of 1970 (PERA), Act of July 23, 1970, P.L. 563 No. 195, art. I, § 101 et seq., 43 P.S. §§ 1101.101-1101.2301 (Supp.1977-1978). The appellee, Leechburg Area School District (District) is a public employer in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
The facts are not in dispute. Clara Battist and Margaret Smith were hired as teachers by the District for the 1974-75 school year. They agreed to accept the salaries which were offered by the District.
A grievance was later filed by the Association contending that the District violated the collective bargaining agreement in effect between the District and the Association in that the two teachers hired were not being paid the salary to which they were entitled. The dispute was submitted to binding arbitration according to the collective bargaining agreement in effect between the parties.
The arbitrator ruled in favor of the Association. An appeal was then taken to the Commonwealth Court by the District. The Commonwealth Court reversed the arbitrator's award. Leechburg Area School District v. Leechburg Education Association, 24 Pa. Commw. 256, 355 A.2d 608 (1976). The Association's petition for allowance of appeal was granted by this Court, and this appeal followed. We vacate the order of the Commonwealth Court and affirm the arbitrator's award.
The scope of the court's review of a binding arbitration award under PERA is limited by the Act of April 25, 1927, P.L. 381 No. 248. Community College of Beaver v. Community College of Beaver County, Society of the Faculty (PSEA/NEA), 473 Pa. 576, 375 A.2d 1267 (1977).
Section 10 of the Act of 1927 outlines four situations in which a court may vacate an arbitration award. Section 11 of the Act of 1927 outlines four other situations in which a court may modify or correct an award. If a party seeks to vacate an award, it must allege one of the four conditions contained in section 10. If a party seeks to modify or correct an arbitration award, it must allege one of the conditions specified in section 11.
The appellee District in this case sought to vacate the arbitrator's award. It was therefore bound to seek judicial review under one of the four categories specified in section 10 of the Act.
The four situations covered in section 10 are:
"(a) Where the award was procured by corruption, fraud, or undue means.
(b) Where there was evident partiality or corruption on the part of the arbitrators, or any of them.
(c) Where the arbitrators were guilty of misconduct in refusing to postpone the hearing upon sufficient cause shown, or in refusing to hear evidence pertinent and material to the controversy, or any other misbehavior by which the rights of any party have been prejudiced.
(d) Where the arbitrators exceeded their powers or so imperfectly executed them that a final and definite award upon the subject matter submitted was not made."
The first issue raised by the District before the Commonwealth Court was a claim that the arbitrator had not properly interpreted the collective bargaining agreement between the parties. That contention is not one cognizable ...