Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Greene County in case of Carmichaels Area Education Association v. Carmichaels Area School District, No. 11 May Term, 1976.
James Hook, with him Hook & Hook, for appellant.
Ronald N. Watzman, for appellee.
Michael I. Levin, with him William Fearen, and Cleckner & Fearen, for amicus curiae, Pennsylvania School Boards Association.
President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers, Blatt and DiSalle. Opinion by Judge Blatt. Dissenting Opinion by Judge Mencer. President Judge Bowman joins in this opinion.
[ 37 Pa. Commw. Page 142]
The Carmichaels Area School District (District) appeals here from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Greene County which dismissed the District's appeal of an arbitrator's decision. The arbitrator had sustained a grievance filed by the Carmichaels Area Education Association (Association).
[ 37 Pa. Commw. Page 143]
In January 1975, the District and the Association began negotiating a collective bargaining agreement for the 1975-76 school years to replace an agreement which was to expire June 30, 1975. In May 1975, the District adopted a calendar for the 1975-76 school year which called for 180 days of instruction and two in-service days. When the parties were unable to reach a new agreement and school reopened on September 3, 1975, the Association went out on strike and the work stoppage lasted for sixteen instructional days, ending on September 24, 1975 with the execution of a new collective bargaining agreement (agreement).
The grievance which is the subject of this appeal was filed by the Association in October 1975, following the District's announcement that the instructional days lost because of the strike would not be made up. The grievance charged that the decision not to reschedule the strike days violated several provisions of the parties' agreement in that the action would reduce the annual salaries paid the teachers for the 1975-76 school year below the figures specified in the agreement. In January 1976, the District reduced the teacher's pay checks to reflect a deduction proportionate to the number of instructional days missed because of the strike, and, when the grievance was finally submitted to arbitration, the arbitrator sustained the grievance, holding that the District owed the Association members the unpaid balance of their annual salaries as such were specified in the agreement. The lower court affirmed the arbitrator's decision on appeal and 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, and if, in resolving the dispute between the contracting parties, the arbitrator has had
[ 37 Pa. Commw. Page 144]
to determine the intention of the parties as evidenced by their collective bargaining agreement and the circumstances surrounding its execution, Section 11(d) establishes 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). And an arbitrator's interpretation of clauses of a collective bargaining agreement defining those matters to be submitted to arbitration involves a factual determination of the parties' intention and must be reviewed with reference to the "essence test." County of Allegheny v. Allegheny County Prison Employees Independent Union, 476 Pa. ...