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ASSOCIATION PENNSYLVANIA STATE COLLEGE AND UNIVERSITY FACULTIES v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (11/06/81)

decided: November 6, 1981.

ASSOCIATION OF PENNSYLVANIA STATE COLLEGE AND UNIVERSITY FACULTIES, APPELLANT,
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA



No. 80-2-260, Appeal from the decision of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania at No. 2503 C.D. 1978, dated October 25, 1979, vacating arbitration award, dated September 27, 1978.

COUNSEL

Elliot A. Strokoff, Jerome H. Gerber, Harrisburg, for appellant.

John D. Raup, Robert J. Schwartz, Asst. Attys. Gen., for appellee.

Roberts, Nix, Larsen, Flaherty and Kauffman, JJ. O'Brien, C. J., and Wilkinson, J., did not participate in the consideration or decision of this case. Nix, J., files a concurring opinion. Larsen and Kauffman, JJ., file dissenting opinions.

Author: Roberts

[ 496 Pa. Page 241]

OPINION

Appellant, Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties, appeals from an order of the Commonwealth Court (DiSalle, J., joined by Craig, J., dissenting) vacating an arbitrator's award in favor of Donald Bortz, a member of its association. Unlike the Commonwealth Court, we conclude that the arbitrator did not exceed the scope of his authority. Hence, we vacate the order of the Commonwealth Court and reinstate the arbitrator's award.*fn1

Bortz, a professor at East Stroudsburg State College, was asked to accept an administrative position as the director of the college's Educational Development Center (EDC). Bortz initially declined the position because his status as an academic faculty member entitled him to benefits not available to administrative faculty members. After receiving express promises from the college president that the acceptance of the EDC position would not affect his entitlement to benefits as an academic faculty member, Bortz assumed the duties of the directorship.

When a member of the academic faculty became ill, the Dean asked Bortz to teach one of the professor's courses. Bortz agreed and taught the course.

It is undisputed that the relevant writings provided for overtime compensation to be paid to academic faculty members who assume the additional burden of teaching an overload but contained no similar provision for administrative faculty members. Despite the express promise of the college administration, Bortz did not receive his overtime compensation. The college denied Bortz the extra compensation on the ground that he occupied an administrative post.

[ 496 Pa. Page 242]

Appellant filed a grievance on behalf of Bortz, alleging that Bortz was entitled to overtime compensation based upon the college president's representation that Bortz would not lose the benefits accorded to an academic faculty member. Following a hearing, the arbitrator held that because the EDC directorship was an administrative faculty position, the written provisions of the collective bargaining agreement precluded Bortz from receiving overtime compensation. Nonetheless, the arbitrator concluded that Bortz was entitled to recover because he justifiably relied on the express promises of the college administration. The arbitrator referred to Restatement of Contracts ยง 90 (1932) in his opinion.*fn2

In vacating the arbitrator's award, the majority of the Commonwealth Court stated that: "When an arbitrator relies not upon the collective bargaining agreement to support an award but upon the Restatement of Contracts, it is apparent that he has exceeded his authority." Judge DiSalle, joined by Judge Craig, dissented on the ground that the collective bargaining agreement did not displace the applicability of fundamental principles of contract law. According to the dissenting opinion, the arbitrator was "obligated to give effect to the spirit as well as the letter of the agreement." Thus, "the arbitrator's award [was] rationally derived from the spirit, if not the precise language, of the ...


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