No. 173 March Term, 1979, Appeal from Order of Commonwealth Court, No. 2170 Commonwealth Docket 1977 which had upheld the Armstrong County Court of Common Pleas Order entered to 1977-0826 Civil in reversing an Arbitrator's Award rendered pursuant to a public employe collective bargaining agreement grievance. Appeal allowed to Supreme Court at No. 1982 Allocatur Docket.
William K. Eckel, Johnstown, for appellants.
Donetta W. Ambrose, Ambrose & Ambrose, New Kensington, for appellee.
O'Brien, C. J., and Roberts, Nix, Larsen, Flaherty and Kauffman, JJ. Roberts and Flaherty, JJ., filed concurring opinions.
The present appeal concerns the issue of whether the Commonwealth Court erred in affirming the order of the Armstrong County Court of Common Pleas reversing an arbitrator's award which held that three grievant-teachers, employed as long-term substitutes shared the status and benefits of other full-time teachers as set forth in a collective bargaining agreement between the Leechburg Education Association (Association) and the Leechburg Area School District (District).
On June 30, 1976, by a resolution, the District, through its Board, provided for a reduction in the teaching staff, effective immediately, due to a substantial decrease in pupil enrollment within the school district. Pursuant to this resolution, grievant, Dale, a tenured professional employee, was suspended. In addition, the contracts of grievants Pastva and Ravotta, both temporary professional employees, were not renewed.
Subsequently, on August 11, 1976, by resolution of the school board, grievant, Dale, was rehired as a substitute for a teacher taking a sabbatical leave during the 1976-77 school year. In addition, grievants, Pastva and Ravotta were rehired as substitutes for two teachers who had taken year-long maternity leaves for the 1976-77 school year. The minutes of the Board's August 11, 1976, meeting specified
that the three rehired teachers were to be paid as substitutes at a rate of $33.33 per diem with no fringe benefits. The three aforementioned teachers began work in September of 1976. On September 23, 1976, a grievance was filed with the District in accordance with the existing contract between the District and the Association. The [statement of the] grievance alleged that the District had violated certain provisions of its collective bargaining agreement with the Association by denying grievants, Dale, Pastva and Ravotta proper salary placement and other contractual benefits. The grievance further requested that the three employees be placed on the salary schedule in accordance with their years of service and be reimbursed for loss of salary and benefits as contained in the contract.
The grievance was denied by the Superintendent and the Board. Thereafter, pursuant to the collective bargaining agreement, the matter was submitted to arbitration.
On June 1, 1977, the arbitrator, appointed pursuant to the Public Employee Relation Act,*fn1 entered an award sustaining the grievance of Dale, Pastva, Ravotta and the Association. The arbitrator ordered that the grievants be recompensed for the difference between the wages paid as substitutes and the wages they were paid as professional and temporary professional employees ...