Appeal from Arbitrator's Award in case of Pennsylvania Social Services Union and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Blair CBA (DPW-76-588), No. 76-1037; Daniel Barroner.
Stephen A. Sheller, with him Bruce M. Ludwig, for petitioner.
Constance S. McAllister, Assistant Attorney General, with her Robert P. Kane, Attorney General, for respondent.
President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers, Blatt and DiSalle. Opinion by Judge Blatt.
[ 35 Pa. Commw. Page 380]
Daniel Barroner appeals here from an arbitrator's decision which held that his demotion during a probationary period following a promotion was not arbitrable under the provisions of the relevant collective bargaining agreement.
Barroner was originally employed by the Blair County Board of Assistance as a Human Services Aide. On December 19, 1975, he was promoted to an Income Maintenance Worker Trainee and began a six-month probationary period in that position. Barroner was informed on April 26, 1976 that he would be demoted to his prior position because he did not successfully pass the probationary period in that his work did not meet the standards required for the Income
[ 35 Pa. Commw. Page 381]
Maintenance Worker position. A grievance was filed on Barroner's behalf by the Pennsylvania Social Services Union (union) contending that his demotion was without just cause and, therefore, violated the relevant provisions of the collective bargaining agreement between the Commonwealth and the Joint Bargaining Committee of the Pennsylvania Social Services Union and the Pennsylvania Employment Security Employees' Association (agreement). An arbitrator heard the grievance and entered a decision holding that a demotion during a probationary period following a promotion was not arbitrable under the agreement. This appeal followed.
This Court's scope of review of an arbitrator's award is defined in Sections 10 and 11 of the Act of April 25, 1927, P.L. 381, as amended (Arbitration Act), 5 P.S. §§ 170, 171. If in resolving the dispute between the contracting parties, the arbitrator has had to determine the intention of the parties as evidenced by their collective bargaining agreement and the circumstances surrounding its execution, the Arbitration Act establishes in Section 11(d) a scope of review similar to the "essence test" recognized in the federal courts. Community College of Beaver County v. Community College of Beaver County, Society of the Faculty (PSEA/NEA), 473 Pa. 576, 594, 375 A.2d 1267, 1275 (1977). Under this test, the arbitrator's interpretation must be upheld if it "can in any rational way be derived from the agreement viewed in light of its language, its context, and any other indicia of the parties intention." Ludwig Honold Mfg. Co. v. Fletcher, 405 F.2d 1123, 1128 (3rd Cir. 1969). An arbitrator's interpretation of clauses of a collective bargaining agreement which defines those matters to be submitted to arbitration involves a factual determination of the parties' intention and must be reviewed with
[ 35 Pa. Commw. Page 382]
reference to the "essence" test. County of Allegheny v. Allegheny County Prison Employees Independent Union, Pa. , n.7, 381 A.2d 849, 851 n.7 (1977). The issue which we must examine here, therefore, is the reasonableness of the arbitrator's interpretation of ...