Appeals from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Beaver County in the case of Community College of Beaver County and Community College of Beaver County, Society of the Faculty (PSEA/NEA), No. 383 of 1985.
Thomas H. M. Hough, with him, Gregory Gleason, Hough & Gleason, P.C., and James S. Ruffner, for appellant/appellee.
William J. Maikovich, for appellee/appellant.
Judges Craig and Doyle, and Senior Judge Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig.
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The Community College of Beaver County and its Society of the Faculty (PSEA/NEA) (association), as cross-appellants, appeal from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Beaver County, modifying an arbitration award. We affirm.
The association is the certified bargaining representative for the college's faculty, counselors, librarians and coordinators. Dorothy D. Watts, a full-time mathematics faculty member of the college, filed a grievance pursuant to the association and college's collective bargaining agreement, alleging that the college had violated the agreement when it reassigned her from teaching credit courses to tutoring.
Because the association and college were unable to resolve the grievance, they submitted it to an arbitrator. After a hearing, the arbitrator granted the grievance, stating that "[i]t is clear that the College must prospectively cease refusing to afford [Watts] her opportunity to teach credit courses"*fn1 and ". . . that the most circumspect
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form of relief, aside from that which is prospective only, is a monetary settlement for the injury sustained by her through the College's improper action, even though it occasioned no financial injury to her." The arbitrator issued an interim award, directing the parties to negotiate an appropriate remedy.
Thereafter, the college appealed from the arbitrator's award to the court of common pleas. The court of common pleas modified the arbitrator's award by restating the award, but without including the damages. This appeal followed.
The college contends that the arbitrator, in interpreting the parties' collective bargaining agreement, exceeded his scope of authority. Our review of labor arbitration awards follows the well-established "essence test." That test requires us to uphold the arbitrator's decision if "'the interpretation can in any rational way be derived from the agreement, viewed in light of its language, its context and any other indicia of the parties' intention. . . .' Ludwig Honold Manufacturing Company v. Fletcher, 405 F.2d 1123, 1128 (3d cir. 1969)." Community College of Beaver County v. Community College of Beaver County, Society of the Faculty (PSEA/NEA), 473 Pa. 576, 594, 375 A.2d 1267, 1275 (1977). In Leechburg Area School District v. Dale, 492 Pa. 515, 520-21, 424 A.2d 1309, 1312-13 (1981), our Supreme Court stated that "the essence test requires a determination as to whether the terms of the agreement encompass the subject matter of the dispute. Where it is determined that the subject matter of the dispute is encompassed within the terms of the agreement, the validity of the arbitrator's interpretation is not a matter of concern to the court."
The arbitrator stated the issue as, "whether or not the language of Article XX, section 20.1 extends a guarantee of any sort to ...