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GEORGE SCHREINER v. CITY MCKEESPORT (11/17/86)

decided: November 17, 1986.

GEORGE SCHREINER, DUANE SENAY, MICHAEL ELIAS, JOSEPH FELTZ AND JOSEPH EDWARDS, APPELLEES,
v.
THE CITY OF MCKEESPORT, LOU WASHOWICH, MAYOR; SAMUEL R. VIDNOVIC, NICHOLAS J. SKEZAS, GERALD F. BOYLE, JOSEPH P. GRAZIANO, JAMES HEATHERINGTON, CHARLES A. SHARBAUGH AND CAROLYN O. YOUNG, MEMBERS OF COUNCIL, APPELLANTS



Appeal from the Order of Superior Court entered May 3, 1985, at No. 1051 Pittsburgh 1984, affirming Order entered May 21, 1984, and reduced to Judgment August 8, 1984, of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Civil Division, at No. G.D. 81-34036, Pa. Super. , A.2d (1985).

COUNSEL

John F. Cambest, Pittsburgh, for appellants.

Ronald P. Koerner, Pittsburgh, for appellees.

Nix, C.j., and Larsen, Flaherty, McDermott, Hutchinson and Papadakos, JJ. Zappala, J., did not participate in the consideration or decision of this case. Larsen, J., files a dissenting opinion. Weir, Judge.

Author: Nix; Weir

[ 512 Pa. Page 413]

OPINION

In this appeal we are presented with a simple question involving the application of basic principles of contract law in the interpretation of a collective bargaining agreement between the City of McKeesport ("City") and its police officers ("Police") covering the years 1978 through 1980. Both the trial court and a Superior Court panel concluded that the parties to that agreement intended to provide for a cost of living adjustment (COLA) for the year 1980 payable beginning in 1981. Because the clear and unambiguous language of the agreement provides for no such adjustment,

[ 512 Pa. Page 414]

    we must reverse the order of the Superior Court and vacate the money judgment entered in favor of the Police.

On December 29, 1977, the City and the Police executed a collective bargaining agreement for the years 1978, 1979 and 1980. The contractual provision at issue in the instant appeal, which provided for certain COLA benefits during the covered years, reads as follows:

4. The City shall grant a COST OF LIVING ADJUSTMENT (hereinafter called COLA) to each and every member of the McKeesport Police Department. The COLA shall be based on the ALL CITIES CONSUMER PRICE INDEX, 1967 = 100, (hereinafter called CPI) published by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The base or beginning CPI for purposes of computing the COLA shall be the CPI figure for the periods ending December 31, 1977 and December 31, 1978. For each 0.4 rise in the CPI from January 1, 1978, to December 31, 1978, a COLA of $0.01 (one cent) per hour will be paid in the year 1979 commencing January 1, 1979 and continuing per hour will be paid in the year 1979 commencing January 1, 1979 and continuing thereafter.

For each 0.4 rise in the CPI from January 1, 1979 to December 31, 1979, an additional COLA of $0.01 (one cent) per hour will be paid in the year 1980 commencing on ...


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