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MIFFLINBURG AREA EDUCATION ASSOCIATION v. MIFFLINBURG AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT (08/01/88)

decided: August 1, 1988.

MIFFLINBURG AREA EDUCATION ASSOCIATION, PSEA/NEA AND JAMES E. MCMENAMIN, APPELLANTS
v.
MIFFLINBURG AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Union County in the case of Mifflinburg Area School District v. Mifflinburg Area Education Association, PSEA/NEA, and James E. McMenamin, No. 615, 1985.

COUNSEL

William A. Hebe, Spencer, Gleason & Hebe, for appellants.

Stephen S. Russell, Pennsylvania School Boards Association, for appellee.

Judges Doyle, Palladino, and Smith, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Palladino. Judge Smith dissents.

Author: Palladino

[ 118 Pa. Commw. Page 329]

Mifflinburg Area Education Association, PSEA/NEA (Appellant) and James E. McMenamin (Grievant) appeal an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Union County (trial court) vacating an arbitrator's award rendered pursuant to a grievance filed by Appellant against Mifflinburg Area School District (Appellee). For the reasons set forth below, we reverse and reinstate the award of the arbitrator.

Appellant and Appellee were parties to a collective bargaining agreement effective from July 1, 1981 to June 30, 1984. Grievant was employed as a teacher by Appellee for the 1982-1983 school year. Grievant did not have tenure and was thus considered a temporary employee by Appellee. During the course of the school year, Grievant was observed and evaluated by Appellee. By letter dated June 23, 1983, Grievant was advised that his performance was being rated "unsatisfactory" and that his employment would be terminated at the conclusion of the school year.

On June 27, 1983, Grievant filed a grievance seeking to have the issue of his termination arbitrated under the provisions of the collective bargaining agreement.*fn1

[ 118 Pa. Commw. Page 330]

Appellee initially refused to arbitrate, claiming that the agreement did not apply to non-tenured teachers and/or that dismissal was not arbitrable. Grievant and Appellant then filed an unfair labor practice charge with the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board, seeking to compel arbitration. Grievant also filed an action in mandamus in the trial court, seeking reinstatement to his position.

The parties subsequently entered into an agreement to arbitrate.*fn2 However, Appellee did not agree to waive the issue of arbitrability. As a result, the arbitrator bifurcated the issues of arbitrability and the merits of Grievant's claim. Hearings were then held on the arbitrability issue. By decision dated October 24, 1985, the arbitrator found that the grievance was arbitrable. The arbitrator determined that the collective bargaining agreement applied to both tenured and non-tenured teachers and that the "just cause" provision of the agreement encompassed the action of dismissal.*fn3

Appellee filed a petition with the trial court requesting that the arbitrator's award be vacated. Appellee argued that the award did not draw its essence from the terms of the collective bargaining agreement and asserted that ...


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