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LABORERS INTERNATIONAL UNION NORTH AMERICA v. COUNTY LAWRENCE (08/17/89)

decided: August 17, 1989.

LABORERS INTERNATIONAL UNION OF NORTH AMERICA, LOCAL UNION NO. 964, APPELLANT,
v.
COUNTY OF LAWRENCE, APPELLEE



Appeal from Lawrence County, Common Pleas Court, Honorable Ralph D. Pratt, Judge.

COUNSEL

Stephen M. Schmerin, Pittsburgh, for appellant.

John W. Hodge, Lawrence County Sol., New Castle, for appellee.

Crumlish, Jr., President Judge, Colins, J., and Barbieri, Senior Judge.

Author: Colins

[ 128 Pa. Commw. Page 218]

The Laborers International Union of North America, Local 964 (Union) appeals an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lawrence County dated September 13, 1988, which vacated the award of Arbitrator Kathleen Spilker. We affirm.

Vikki Macarella (grievant), a member of the Union, was employed as a housekeeper at Hill View Manor, the nursing home for the County of Lawrence (employer), for approximately three and one-half years. Grievant voluntarily resigned in writing on February 28, 1987 over dissatisfaction with her work and a dispute with another employee. Employer accepted her resignation and grievant then completed several more days of work for which she had been scheduled.

Employer posted the job vacancy on March 2, 1987 pursuant to ARTICLE XXX of the parties' Labor Agreement (agreement) (see Footnote 3 herein). Grievant apparently had a change of heart on March 4, and after speaking with her Union representative sought to revoke her resignation. Grievant sent certified letters to her Superintendent, the nursing home administrator, and the County Commissioners, which were received by employer on March 5, 1987. Grievant also spoke with the nursing home administrator

[ 128 Pa. Commw. Page 219]

    and her Superintendent concerning her request for reinstatement. Employer received two bids for the job which was subsequently awarded to the senior bidder from the dietary department. The Commissioners refused to allow grievant to rescind her resignation and, as a result, she filed a grievance on March 13, 1987.

Arbitration was held on July 9, 1987 pursuant to Section 903 of the Public Employe Relations Act, commonly known as Act 195.*fn1 The arbitrator issued a decision dated July 28, 1987, which sustained the grievance and directed employer to reinstate the grievant to her former position in the housekeeping department, pay her all lost wages, restore her seniority, and revive her benefits as of March 13, 1987. The County Solicitor petitioned for review of the arbitrator's award in the Court of Common Pleas of Lawrence County on August 19, 1987. By order dated September 13, 1988, the trial court ordered the award of the arbitrator vacated. This appeal followed.

Our scope of review of arbitration awards is very narrow in that an arbitrator's decision may not be disturbed so long as it draws its essence from the collective bargaining agreement. North East Educ. Ass'n v. North East School Dist., 117 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 19, 542 A.2d 1053 (1988). Notwithstanding, an arbitrator's award cannot be manifestly unreasonable. Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board v. Independent State Stores Union, 520 Pa. 266, 553 A.2d 948 (1989). An arbitrator is the interpreter of the terms of the collective bargaining agreement and his decision is entitled to great deference. Greater Johnstown Area Vocational-Technical School v. Greater Johnstown Area Vocational-Technical Educ. Ass'n, 520 Pa. 197, 553 A.2d 913 (1989).

Under the essence test, this Court must determine whether an arbitrator's interpretation can in any rational way be derived from the collective bargaining agreement, viewed in light ...


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