11 CIR 1 (1990)


An Unincorporated Association, |
Petitioner, |
A Political Subdivision of the |
State of Nebraska, |
Respondent. |


For the Petitioner: Mark D. McGuire

Crosby, Guenzel, Davis,

Kessner & Kuester

400 Lincoln Benefit Building

Lincoln, Nebraska 68508

For the Respondent: Rex R. Schultze

Perry, Guthery, Haase

& Gessford, P.C.

1400 FirsTier Bank Building

Lincoln, Nebraska 68508

Before: Judges Cope, Orr, and Dawson



The Petitioner, Stanton Education Association, filed a petition on November 7, 1989, seeking a determination of wages and other terms and conditions of employment for the 1989-1990 school year pursuant to Neb. Rev. Stat. 48-818(Reissue 1988). The Respondent, Stanton County School District 0003, filed an answer on November 20, 1989, and after various delays a trial was held in this matter on March 13, 1990.

Stanton County School District is a Class III district with a 1989-1990 student enrollment of 396 students. The District employs thirty full-time teachers and one part-time teacher.

The sole issues listed at the pretrial for resolution by the Commission were base salary, health insurance coverage, and employer's contribution towards health insurance premium.


The Petitioner seeks relief and the Commission has jurisdiction over the pending industrial dispute pursuant to Neb.Rev. Stat. 48-818(Reissue 1988) which, in relevant part, provides:

Except as provided in the State Employees Collective Bargaining Act, the findings and order or orders may establish or alter the scale of wages, hours of labor, or conditions of employment, or any one or more of the same. In making such findings and order or orders, the Commission of Industrial Relations shall establish rates of pay and conditions of employment which are comparable to the prevalent wage rates paid and conditions of employment maintained for the same or similar work of workers exhibiting like or similar skills under the same or similar working conditions. In establishing wage rates the Commission shall take into consideration the overall compensation presently received by the employees, having regard not only to wages for time actually worked but also to wages for time not worked, including vacations, holidays, and other excused time, and all benefits received, including insurance and pensions, and the continuity and stability of employment enjoyed by the employees .....


The Commission was presented with fourteen different school districts as comparables for the Stanton school district. The common districts included Battle Creek, Leigh, Madison, Pierce, Randolph, and Winside. The Petitioner also offered the districts of Humphrey, Wakefield, West Point, and Wisner-Pilger. The Respondent offered the additional districts of Creighton, Elkhorn Valley, Homer, and Scribner Snyder. All of the districts offered by the parties are Class III districts. The parties stipulated that the work, skills, and working conditions for the employees of the proposed districts are similar and satisfy the requirements of Section 48-818. Table I sets out the relevant data on the array points offered by the parties.

The Petitioner's expert testified that he chose the Association's array based solely on proximity and size with an emphasis on proximity. In effect, he listed all of the Class III districts within fifty miles of Stanton and then chose the five closest districts that were larger than Stanton and the five closest districts that were smaller than Stanton.

The Respondent's expert testified that he chose his array based on size, proximity, and the per pupil assessed valuation. He also stated that he took into consideration the contact that the proposed districts had with Stanton, eliminating those districts that had little or no athletic or administrative contact. The Petitioner strongly objected to the expert's testimony concerning the per pupil assessed valuation and the relevance of that figure in determining the proper array. The Petitioner argued that all of the testimony as to the per pupil assessed valuation was direct evidence as to the district's ability to pay and that such evidence is not to be considered when choosing a comparability array. The Respondent argued that the criteria of size and proximity are not sufficient to limit the array in this case to a manageable size and the Commission should therefore consider economic proximity as evidenced by the per pupil assessed valuation.

The Commission has in the past been faced with the argument that ability to pay should be a criteria for choosing the appropriate array, Nebraska City Education Association v. School District of Nebraska City , 3 CIR 281 (1977). The Commission did not consider the evidence as to the assessed valuation of the districts and the case was appealed. The Supreme Court held that the statutory guidelines for choosing an array do not include ability to pay and the Commission was correct in refusing to consider such evidence, Nebraska City Education Association v. School District of Nebraska City , 201 Neb. 303, 267 N.W.2d 530(1979). The statutory guidelines set out in Section 48-818 for choosing an array have not been amended since the Supreme Court's decision in Nebraska City. The Commission will thus disregard all evidence of the per pupil assessed valuation.

As Table 1 indicates, all of the districts offered by the parties are within the size criteria generally established by the Commission. The proposed districts, except for Creighton, are also within a fifty mile radius of Stanton. The parties stipulated that all of the districts are appropriate for comparison and there is no evidence in the record that the work, skills, and working conditions at any of the districts offered by the parties are not similar so as to require excluding them from the Commission's array. The Commission thus determines that the array shall consist of Battle Creek, Creighton, Elkhorn Valley, Homer, Humphrey, Leigh, Madison, Pierce, Randolph, Scribner Snyder, Wakefield, West Point, Winside, and Wisner-Pilger.


The Stanton School District currently provides its employees health insurance coverage under a plan underwritten by Guardian Life Insurance Company of America. The plan provides for a $200.00 deductible with two deductibles per family. The Association has asked the Commission to order that the District provide the same coverage under the same policy but lower the deductible to a $100.00 annual deductible, two deductibles per family. Table 2 sets out the relevant information provided by the parties on the health insurance issue raised.

The Association contends that Table 2 clearly shows that the prevalent practice is to provide a $100.00 deductible for insurance coverage. The School District argues that the coverage provided under the Guardian plan with a $200.00 deductible is comparable to the BC/BS plan which is clearly the prevalent insurance plan and therefore, under the statute, the Commission should order no change. Both parties acknowledge that by implementing a $200.00 deductible for this school year the district saved money and the district agrees that that savings should go towards increasing base salary. The parties further recognize that if the Commission would order the District to implement a $100.00 deductible there will be increased costs associated with the fringe benefit package paid for by the District because the District would necessarily incur additional cost in reimbursing employees who have exceeded the prevalent $100.00 deductible.

It is clear that, given evidence that the Guardian plan is comparable to the BC/BS plan, the prevalent deductible is $100.00. The Commission will therefore order the District to implement a $100.00 deductible and to reimburse those employees who have already incurred payments over the $100.00 maximum or the family maximum as determined by the plan. This, however, does not mean that the District need increase its deductible with its insurance carrier but may instead, from the date of this Order for this school year, pay directly to the employee amounts incurred by the employee over the $l00.00 deductible as set forth above. Because of the inability to determine total fringe cost to arrive at a base salary figure in this particular case, the Commission finds that wages shall be based on the salary figures only and that the fringe benefits are comparable after the district has reimbursed the deductibles due the teachers. Sherman County Teachers Ass'n v. School Dist. No. 15, Sherman County , 8 CIR 77 (1985); Millard Education Ass'n v. School Dist. of Millard , 5 CIR 425 (l982).


Table 3 sets forth the prevalent adjusted total salary figure based on the array chosen by the Commission. Applying the statutory criteria of Section 48-8l8, we find that the base salary for the 1989-90 school year at Stanton County School District 0003 shall be $15,350.00.


1. The base salary for the teachers of the Stanton County School District 0003 for the school year 1989-90 shall be $15,350.00.

2. The District shall implement a $l00.00 deductible and reimburse those employees who have incurred payments over the $l00.00 maximum or the family maximum as determined by the plan.

3. All other terms and conditions of employment shall not be affected by this Order.

4. All amounts due shall be paid in a single sum with the payroll check issued next following the final order entered herein.

All judges assigned to the panel in this case join in the entry of these Findings and Order.

Entered May 3, 1990.