Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in case of In The Matter of the Arbitration Between: McKeesport Area School District v. McKeesport Area Education Association, No. GD-78-9009.
John M. Tighe, Tarasi & Tighe, for appellant.
Ronald N. Watzman, Watzman & Elovitz, for appellee.
President Judge Crumlish and Judges Wilkinson, Jr., Rogers, Blatt, Craig, Williams, Jr. and Palladino. Judges Mencer and MacPhail did not participate. Opinion by Judge Palladino.
[ 56 Pa. Commw. Page 225]
The McKeesport Area School District (District) appeals from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County affirming an arbitrator's award on behalf of the McKeesport Area Education Association (Association). We affirm.
As a result of a failure to enter into a new collective bargaining agreement for the 1976-77 school year, the Association, which acts as collective bargaining agent for the District's teachers called for a general strike to commence on January 3, 1977 at the close of
[ 56 Pa. Commw. Page 226]
the Christmas vacation.*fn1 The strike took place as scheduled and lasted through January 30, 1977, a period of 19 school days. A new collective bargaining agreement was ratified by both parties on January 30, 1977 and the teachers were to resume work on January 31, 1977. Unfortunately, inclement weather coupled with the severe energy shortage of 1977 prevented the teachers from returning to work from January 31, 1977 through February 4, 1977 because the District's schools were closed as a result of the weather emergency.
Classes resumed on February 7, 1977 and continued normally throughout the remainder of the school year with the District rescheduling as many of the missed days as possible without violating Section 401 of the Public School Code of 1949*fn2 by extending classes beyond June 30. Consequently, a total of 164 class days and one teacher in-service day were held in 1976-77. Reasoning that the new collective bargaining agreement called for 185 days, the District deducted 20 days of pay from the teachers' salaries. A grievance protesting the District's failure to pay the teachers for days lost because of the energy crisis was submitted to arbitration and decided in favor of the Association. This award was affirmed by the lower court, and the instant appeal followed.
The arbitrator found (1) that the appropriate base figure for calculating the deduction was 181 days rather than the 185 used by the District; (2) that the extra four days between 181 and 185 were intended by the District to be utilized as teacher in-service days;
[ 56 Pa. Commw. Page 227]
(3) that the scheduling of in-service days was optional with the District and therefore the teachers should be paid for the three in-service days which, though not actually held, could have been scheduled by the District on weekends; and (4) that the teachers were entitled because of the Weather Emergency Act of 1977*fn3 to be paid for the five days during the week of January 31 to February 4, 1977 when the schools were closed because of the energy crisis. The arbitrator's findings, ...