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Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education v. Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties

Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania

August 14, 2014

Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, Petitioner
Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties, Respondent

Argued June 16, 2014

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Appealed from No. 14 390 0252 12. State Agency: State System of Higher Education.

Julie A. Aquino, Pittsburgh for petitioner.

Jennifer A. Nachamkin, Harrisburg, for respondent.



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The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, Kutztown University, petitions for review of an arbitration award holding that the University violated a collective bargaining agreement by assigning librarians the duty of providing academic advice to students. University asserts that the Arbitrator impermissibly relied on past practices, improperly inserted new terms into the collective bargaining agreement and disregarded its managerial rights. We affirm.

University is one of 14 public universities operated by the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (State System). The Association of Pennsylvania State College & University Facilities (Union) is the collective bargaining representative for all of the universities that comprise the State System. The State System has negotiated a series of collective bargaining agreements that span several decades, and each agreement covers all the public universities in the State System.

University employs ten full-time librarians, who are treated as faculty under the relevant collective bargaining agreement for 2007-2011 (CBA). In 2010, University closed its academic advising center for financial reasons. In 2011, University sought to replace the function of the closed center by assigning 60 students to each librarian for academic advising. It did so with the proviso that academic advising would fall within the librarian's 35-hour work week set forth in the CBA. Union filed a grievance to challenge this assignment. At the hearing, the parties stipulated

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that the issue before the Arbitrator was whether University " violate[d] the [CBA] by assigning librarians to academic advising duties." Reproduced Record at 5a (R.R. ).

Ruth Perkins, a librarian and 15-year Union representative, testified. She explained that the CBA governed both teaching faculty and non-teaching faculty, such as librarians, at University. Article 23 of the CBA assigned duties to " administrative faculty" and to " academic faculty." CBA, Article 23; R.R. 256a, 259a. Academic faculty includes both " teaching faculty" [1] and " library faculty," [2] and each have different " workload and workload equivalents." R.R. 256a-59a. Because the teaching faculty must have office hours, their weekly workload must not exceed 24 hours, unless they are given " overload" pay. R.R. 256a. Librarians do not keep office hours, and they do not have the opportunity for overload pay. Likewise, teaching faculty have duties involving internships and the supervision of student teachers, which librarians do not share.

Article 4 of the CBA addresses the duties of faculty members.[3] Article 4.A

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emphasizes that the " universal responsibility of the teaching FACULTY MEMBER is effective teaching." CBA, Article 4.A; R.R. 188a. Article 4.B then lists the specific duties of the teaching faculty, such as making classroom assignments; keeping office hours; and " advising students." CBA, Article 4.B; R.R. 188a.

Perkins explained that Article 16 of the CBA[4] requires written job descriptions for those faculty members, such as librarians, who have responsibilities that lie outside of the classroom and for faculty members with mixed workloads. These written job descriptions are used to evaluate these faculty members " in lieu of effective teaching," the evaluation criterion for teaching faculty. CBA, Article 16; R.R. 220a. In this way, Article 16 highlights that librarians do not perform the " effective teaching" duties set forth in Articles 4 and 23 of the CBA.

Perkins stated that Article 23 of the CBA limits librarians to a 35-hour work week and directs that a librarian's schedule shall be based on " library needs." Perkins maintained that a " library need" cannot be construed to include advising students on their academics.

In all the years Perkins worked at the library, no librarian had ever been assigned academic advising duties. When Perkins began employment at University, she went through an orientation for new faculty members. Perkins signed up for the orientation session on how to advise students, and she was not allowed to attend. She was informed that as a librarian, she could not provide academic advice to students.

In 2001, University asked for volunteers to teach a studies class. Perkins volunteered and taught the class. In every other studies class, the teacher was also the advisor to the students. Perkins was not permitted to be an advisor to the students in her class; rather, a teaching faculty member was assigned that position. Again, Perkins was advised that librarians could not advise.

On April 8, 2011, the librarians received notice from the University's Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and the Dean of Library Services that, beginning in the Fall 2011 semester, they would advise all incoming freshman students who had not declared a major. Accordingly, University assigned approximately 60 students to each librarian for that semester, for which it provided training. In addition, University revised the librarians' job descriptions to include student advising. Perkins explained that her job description from 2002 to 2011 had listed ...

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