Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in case of The Board of Public Education of the School District of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, No. GD 83-00254.
Stuart W. Davidson, Kirschner, Walters, Willig, Weinberg & Dempsey, for appellant.
Robert E. Durrant, Meyer, Darragh, Buckler, Bebenek & Eck, for appellee.
Judges Doyle and Colins, and Senior Judge Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Doyle.
[ 94 Pa. Commw. Page 375]
This is an appeal of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, District Council 84, Local 297 (AFSCME), from an order of the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas which reversed the award of a labor arbitrator.
AFSCME is a certified employee organization representing certain non-professional employees of the Board of Public Education of the School District of Pittsburgh (School Board), among whom are employees in the operations department of the School
[ 94 Pa. Commw. Page 376]
District. AFSCME and the School Board are parties to a collective bargaining agreement which provides that disputes arising from the agreement are to be resolved by binding arbitration.
In February, 1982, two custodial employees of the School Board bid for a posted vacancy for the position of Fireman A at the South High School. When the position was awarded to the employee with less seniority, the other bidding employee filed a grievance through AFSCME on the grounds that the selection of the less senior employee violated the collective bargaining agreement which provided that such positions are to be awarded to the most senior employee when the skills and abilities of the bidding employees are relatively equal. The grievance was submitted to Arbitrator Lewis R. Amis who held a hearing and thereafter issued an award granting the grievance of the senior employee. In reaching his decision, the Arbitrator discounted the School Board's method of evaluating the two candidates for the position because the evaluation committee did not have first hand knowledge of the employees, and because the criteria used in the evaluation form were either too vague or not relevant in evaluating the employees' ability to perform the job in question. The Arbitrator found instead that the two employees were "relatively equal in skill and ability" and that therefore, under the terms of the agreement, the senior employee should be awarded the position.
The School Board appealed to the court of common pleas and, after a hearing, that court reversed the Arbitrator's award, concluding that the Arbitrator's rejection of the School Board's evaluation method was manifestly unreasonable in light of the fact that the method had been in operation for some time, that this method had been found equitable by the same arbitrator six months earlier in an unrelated arbitration,
[ 94 Pa. Commw. Page 377]
and that the Arbitrator failed to reopen the record for testimony as to the accuracy of the evaluations. AFSCME ...