Appeals from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, in case of Woodland Hills School District v. Woodland Hills Education Association, PSEA/NEA, No. GD 83-05095.
Ronald N. Watzman, for appellant/appellee, Woodland Hills Education Association, PSEA/NEA.
Patrick J. Clair, with him, Thomas M. Rutter, Jr., Goehring, Rutter & Boehm, for appellee/appellant, Woodland Hills School District.
President Judge Crumlish, Jr., Judges Rogers and Barry, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Barry.
[ 96 Pa. Commw. Page 503]
Both parties to this litigation, the Woodland Hills School District (District), the plaintiff below, and the Woodland Hills Education Association (Association) appeal from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County which entered judgment for the District in the amount of $12,033.22.
[ 96 Pa. Commw. Page 504]
The Association, which represents most of the teachers within the District, staged a work stoppage between September 20, 1982 and October 28, 1982, a period of thirty-seven days. In spite of the work stoppage, the District was able to schedule 180 days of student instruction and, therefore, obtained its full state subsidy. The teachers, however, worked only 183 days as opposed to the 186 days called for in the contract. As a result, the teachers were paid 183/186 of their annual salaries.
Fringe benefits covering the teachers included medical, dental, vision and life insurance. These coverages were provided on an annual basis, though the premiums were paid by the District every month. The premiums were paid during the strike by the District. Who must ultimately bear these costs during the work stoppage and in what amount constitutes the hub of the present controversy.
Following the signing of the new contract and the return to work of the teachers, the District filed an action for declaratory judgment, seeking reimbursement for the District's payments made for the fringe benefits covering the teachers during the strike. The parties entered into a stipulation thereby obviating the need for any hearings. In the stipulation, the parties agreed that the issue of whether the Association should be required to repay anything would hinge upon an interpretation of Section 1006 of the Public Employe Relation Act (PERA), Act of July 23, 1970, P.L. 563, 43 P.S. § 1101.1006 (Supp. 1985). The District sought repayment of $74,873.38, or 37/365 of the total annual premiums covering the entire period of the work stoppage. In the stipulation, the Association stated that if it was responsible for repayment, the amount due should be $12,033.22, or 3/186 of the annual premiums. The trial court held that the Association was, in fact, responsible
[ 96 Pa. Commw. Page 505]
for repaying the latter amount. Both parties appealed and the matter is now ready for our review.
Section 1006 of PERA provides, "No public employe shall be entitled to pay or compensation from the public employer for the period engaged in any strike." 43 P.S. § 1101.1006 (Supp. 1985). The Association first advances two arguments, both of which challenge the trial court's holding that the Association was responsible for repayment to the District. It first argues that no repayment is necessary because the District made these payments gratuitously. As mere volunteers generally do not have any claims for ...