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decided: April 28, 1986.


Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Crawford County in the case of Conneaut School Service Personnel Association v. Conneaut School District, No. 1984-1202.


William J. Maikovich, for appellant.

Gordon R. Miller, Fuller, Kinnunen, Miller & Gamble, for appellee.

Judge Craig, and Senior Judges Blatt and Kalish, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig.

Author: Craig

[ 96 Pa. Commw. Page 587]

The Conneaut School Service Personnel Association, a union, has appealed from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Crawford County vacating an arbitration award in the union's favor, which directed the Conneaut School District to reinstate a grievant, Gerry Conley, in her former position involving audio-visual, supply room, library and attendance duties, with back pay reimbursement from October 26, 1983, the date of her layoff, until the date of reinstatement.

History of the Case

The factual history, involving undisputed facts, is embodied in the arbitrator's findings, which the trial judge adopted. The findings read:

[ 96 Pa. Commw. Page 588]

Grievant Gerry Conley commenced employment with the District in October, 1977 as a Teacher Aide at the Conneaut Valley School. She held this position for one school year, after which she returned as an occasional substitute. In school year 1979-1980, she was recalled to a position involving duties as an Audio-Visual Aide, a supply Aide and an Attendance Clerk.

The Grievant devoted approximately one-half of her work day to audio-visual activities, including delivery and pickup of A-V equipment, cleaning and checking of the equipment, sending it for repair when required, and ordering and preparing slides and films for presentation. The balance of theday she devoted essentially to supply aide tasks, receiving and checking inventory and delivering supplies to Teachers who had requested them. Some time was spent in performing miscellaneous clerical tasks, including typing, making copies and related odd jobs.

The Grievant had the same assignment in school year 1980-1981. The following year, she was also assigned duties as a Library Aide, and she spent some three hours each day in the Central Office performing attendance duties and typing.

In September, 1982, the District revised the Grievant's job assignment. Audio-visual functions were assigned to Donna Baker, a professional employe who had recently acquired a Master's Degree as a Media Specialist. Supply room tasks were assigned to a Special Education Teacher, whose Special Education students made deliveries as part of their training. The Grievant's library duties were assigned to the Librarian, a professional employe; and her functions as an Attendance Clerk were assumed by

[ 96 Pa. Commw. Page 589]

    two Teachers, Mrs. Dean and Mrs. Baravich. The Grievant was assigned as an Aide to a handicapped student during school year 1982-1983.

In September, 1983, the Grievant was furloughed. The instant grievance was filed on October 26, 1983 protesting the assignment of her duties to non-bargaining unit personnel. When the matter was not resolved in the course of the grievance process, it was appealed to arbitration hereunder.

Part of the necessary factual history includes the terms of the collective bargaining agreement itself. The relevant categories of contract provisions included those pertaining to (1) the grievance procedure and its applicable time limits, (2) the union recognition, unit definition and management rights clauses, and (3) the provisions governing arbitrator's duties and functions. This opinion will focus on each of those provisions in dealing with the respective issue to which it pertains.

The Issues

According to the appellee school district's brief, the issues are as follows:

1. Does an arbitration award, holding that a grievance filed thirteen months after the alleged contract violation occurred was timely, draw its essence from a contract that requires the filing of a grievance within twenty (20) days after an employee or union should reasonably have known of the grievance?

2. Does an arbitration award prohibiting a public employer from reassigning work to a non-bargaining unit member draw its essence from a contract that contains a management rights clause and contains a recognition clause that was not discussed at all during collective bargaining?

[ 96 Pa. Commw. Page 590]

With respect to Question No. 1 above, the dating of the alleged contract violation is not as clearcut as the school district contends. The union notes that the grievant was not economically aggrieved until furloughed in September of 1983, shortly before the grievance filing date.

With respect to Question No. 2 above, to state that the contract "is silent on the issue" is to assume an answer to the question; the arbitrator has the power to interpret all possibly pertinent provisions in order to decide whether the ...

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