11 CIR 62 (1991)


An Unincorporated Association, |
Petitioner, |
0006, a/k/a SCHOOL DISTRICT OF |
ALLIANCE, 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 Orr, Kratz, and Cope



A Petition was filed in this matter on September 6, 1990 seeking resolution of an industrial dispute existing between the Petitioner, Alliance Education Association, and the Respondent, Box Butte County School District 0006, a/k/a School District of Alliance. Specifically, the Petitioner requests that the Commission establish wages and other terms, tenure and conditions of employment for the teacher-members of the Association for the 1990-1991 contract year.

A pretrial was originally scheduled for October 17,1990 but was continued at the request of the Respondent. A trial was held on December 13, 1990.

At the outset of the hearing the parties orally stipulated that:

1.The staff and their placements on the salary schedule were as set out on Exhibit 1.

2. The issues remaining for resolution are; number of paid personal days, use of sick leave for child care purposes, wages and health insurance.

3. Any adjustments to salary ordered by the Commission shall be paid in one lump sum with the payment following entry of the Commission's order.

The parties also offered as Exhibit A a written stipulation agreeing that;

The work, skill, and working conditions of the teachers employed by the Respondent School District and the staff employed at the compared to school districts on the Association's Exhibit 5 and School District's Exhibit 35 are sufficiently similar to satisfy the standards set forth in Neb. Rev. Stat. Section 48-818.


The Petitioner seeks relief and the Commission has jurisdiction over this pending 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 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 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 Petitioner presented a ten member array consisting of: Columbus, Gering, Hastings, Kearney, Lexington, McCook, Norfolk, North Platte, Scottsbluff, and York. The Respondent presented a seven member array consisting of: Chadron, Gering, Kimball, Mitchell, Ogallalla, Scottsbluff and Sidney. Table 1 sets out the relevant information on the proposed comparables.

The parties employed very different methodologies in choosing an array of comparables for the Alliance school district. The Petitioner's expert testified that he chose his array based on the criteria of size and geographical proximity to Alliance. The Petitioner's expert stated that he initially looked at all Nebraska schools that were within the parameters of one-half to twice as large as Alliance and then arranged them in order according to their distance from Alliance. Petitioner's expert testified that he then chose a balanced array with equal numbers of larger and smaller districts. It was Petitioner's theory that it is necessary in this case to expand the geographic circle of comparables because Alliance is a comparatively large school in a relatively sparsely populated region of Nebraska, thus, it is necessary to go further than normal to find districts proximate in size.

Respondent's expert applied many varied, some unique, criteria in choosing an array for this case. Respondent's expert testified that he looked at demographics, enrollment, distance, the overall operation of the district as it related to administrative contacts and academic contacts the school might have with Alliance, and the university or college from which the teachers obtained their bachelors' degrees. The Respondent's expert theorized that by looking at where the teachers obtained their degrees he could judge whether the proposed array point was in the same labor market as Alliance and thus otherwise comparable. Respondent's expert did not take into consideration how long the teacher had been out of college or how many years the teacher may have taught in other districts. Thus, even if information as to where teachers obtained their degrees was relevant to establishing a similarity of labor market, there is certainly no evidence to support a finding that this somehow comes to play in determining comparability.

The array points offered by the Petitioner all fit the Commission's traditional size guideline of one-half to twice as large. Two of the district's offered by the Respondent, Kimball and Mitchell, are approximately three and one-half times smaller than Alliance and another, Chadron, is considerably smaller than one-half the size of Alliance. The closest of the Petitioner's proposed comparables is 53 miles away and the furthest is 327 miles from Alliance. The districts offered by the Respondent range from a distance of 53 miles to 96 miles from Alliance. The Respondent's expert continually emphasized that he only included districts from the same region as Alliance in his array.

The Commission finds that there is no compelling reason to deviate from our previous enumerated and applied criteria. Although it is necessary to somewhat expand the geographic area from which we include array points, due to the size of the Alliance district and its location in the state, we find that it is not appropriate to deviate from the general size guideline of one-half to twice as large. There are a sufficient number of comparably sized districts that are relatively close to Alliance. We will therefore include the following districts in the comparability array: Gering, Kearney, Lexington, McCook, North Platte, Ogallalla, Scottsbluff, and Sidney. These districts fit the Commission's size guidelines and are proximate enough to be appropriate for inclusion in the Commission's array.


The parties contend that an industrial dispute exists as to the following benefits: number of paid personal days, use of sick leave for child care purposes, and health insurance.

Personal Days

The Petitioner contends that Alliance is below the prevalent in providing for personal leave days for teachers. Alliance currently provides one personal leave day with full pay and one personal leave day with the cost of the substitute subtracted from that teachers wage. Table 2 sets out the policies of the districts in the Commission's array on this issue. It is clear from Table 2 that the prevalent policy is to provide two personal leave days per year with full pay and no personal leave days with the cost of the substitute subtracted.

Sick Leave for Child Care

Although the parties stipulated that one of the remaining issues is use of sick leave for child care, all of the evidence presented at trial and all of the exhibits address the use of sick leave for the care of immediate family members. For purposes of this order, the Commission finds that the issue is in fact use of sick leave for the care of immediate family members.

The Petitioner argues that Alliance is below the prevalent in allowing teachers to use sick leave for the care of sick family members. Alliance currently only allows the use of one sick leave day (with substitution costs subtracted) for the care of ill family members. Table 3 lists the districts in the Commission's array and sets out their policies on this issue. It is clear from looking at this Table that it is prevalent to allow employees to use sick leave for the care of family members but that there is a vast difference in the number of days that can be used in that manner. One district does not allow the use of sick leave for family members. Three of the districts would allow a teacher to use their total accumulated sick leave for the care of a family member. The other districts either allow their teachers to use their entire yearly allocated sick leave or some portion thereof. The number of days allowed thus ranges from 0 to 185 accumulated days.

The evidence clearly does not establish a prevalent number of days allowed for family illness and the wide variation prevents the Commission from calculating an actuarially sound figure representative of a prevalent practice. The Commission will thus set the number of days allowed for use in this manner at the yearly allocated sick leave in Alliance. We therefore find that Alliance should allow their teachers to use up to 10 days of their accumulated sick leave for the care of an immediate family member who is ill.

Health Insurance

The Petitioner seeks to have the Commission set the premium to be paid by the employer for the health/dental insurance offered by the district. Table 4 sets out the prevalent policy of the districts in the Commission's array. The Alliance School District has Blue Cross/Blue Shield health and dental insurance and there was no indication that either party sought to change that benefit. It appears from the record that the sole dispute is to the premium rate. Alliance is presently paying the same premium as last year and has not increased their premium payment to coincide with the increase in premium set out by Blue Cross. Alliance has, in the past, paid the entire premium for full family health and full family dental for all employees with dependents. Clearly, in looking at Table 4, that is not the prevalent practice. It is the prevalent policy of the array to pay the full premium for single health/single dental ($130.25) and pay the full premium for family health/single dental ($355.60) unless both spouses work for the district in which case the district pays the full family health/family dental premium for Blue Cross coverage.


Table 5 sets forth the adjusted total salary figures for the array chosen by the Commission. Applying the statutory criteria of Section 48-818, we find that the base salary for the 1990-1991 school year at Box Butte County School District 0006, a/k/a School District of Alliance shall be $17,323.48.


1. The base salary for the teachers employed at the Box Butte County School District for the 1990-1991 school year shall be $17,323.48.

2. The teachers shall receive two personal leave days with full pay, subject to any advance approval restrictions agreed to by the parties.

3. The teachers shall be allowed to use 10 days of sick leave for the care of immediate family members that are ill.

4. The District shall pay the full premium amount for single health/single dental insurance ($130.25) for those single employees who chose that benefit and shall pay the full premium ($355.60) for family health/single dental for employees with dependents unless they have a spouse employed in the District and then the District shall pay full family health/family dental premium ($376.36).

5. All adjustments in salary and benefits due employees pursuant to this order shall be paid in one lump sum with the next payment following entry of this order.

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

Entered February 6, 1991.

NOTE: We took judicial notice of enrollment figures from Nebraska Education Directory.