Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Cambria County in the case of Greater Johnstown Area Vocational-Technical School v. Greater Johnstown Area Vo-Tech Education Association, No. 1980-5728.
Marlin B. Stephens, for appellant.
William K. Eckel, for appellee.
President Judge Crumlish, Jr. and Judges Williams, Jr. and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by President Judge Crumlish, Jr.
[ 69 Pa. Commw. Page 209]
Greater Johnstown Area Vocational-Technical School (School)*fn1 appeals from a Cambria County Common Pleas Court order affirming an arbitration award. We affirm.
[ 69 Pa. Commw. Page 210]
Due to a "projected" enrollment decrease,*fn2 the School curtailed and altered its curriculum, resulting in the suspensions of Earl Wadsworth, a tenured driver-education instructor with an alternate certification in physical education, and Kathleen Shedlock Patrick, a non-tenured English teacher (employees). The Greater Johnstown Area Vocational-Technical Education Association (Association) filed grievances on the employees' behalf, alleging that the School violated the "Just Cause Provision"*fn3 of the collective bargaining agreement (agreement) between the School and the Association. The grievance procedure set forth in the agreement establishes a four-step process, culminating in binding arbitration. Although the first three steps of the grievance mechanism were pursued, the School refused to proceed to arbitration. This Court, in Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board v. Greater Johnstown Area Vocational-Technical School, 48 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 604, 410 A.2d 1290 (1980), affirmed the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board order requiring the School to arbitrate the suspension issues.*fn4
[ 69 Pa. Commw. Page 211]
The arbitrator concluded, first, that since the School had failed to realign its staff to retain Wadsworth in accordance with his alternate certification and seniority, he was improperly suspended; and, second, that School had curtailed or altered its English program without securing prior approval from the Pennsylvania Department of Public Instruction as required by law,*fn5 thus Patrick's suspension was likewise improper.
The arbitrator ordered the School to reinstate Wadsworth and to reimburse Patrick for all lost compensation and benefits resulting from her improper suspension. Common Pleas Court affirmed the award, and this appeal follows.
Initially we note that review of an arbitrator's decision is highly circumscribed and will not be overturned if it draws its essence from the collective bargaining agreement. Leechburg Area School District v. Dale, 492 Pa. 515, 517, 424 A.2d 1309, 1312 (1981). ...