|PAPILLION EDUCATION|||||CASE NO. 120|
|ASSOCIATION, An Unincorporated||||
|v.|||||FINDINGS AND OPINION|
|THE SCHOOL DISTRICT OF||||
|PAPILLION, IN THE COUNTY||||
|OF SARPY, IN THE STATE OF||||
|NEBRASKA, A Political||||
Theodore Kessner of Crosby, Guenzel, Davis, Kessner & Kuester, for plaintiff.
John P. Kelly of Atkinson & Kelly, for defendant.
Before Judges Wall, Rudolph and Green.
The parties during 1972-73 entered into a contract providing for a $6,800.00 base salary, a 5 x 5 index, and 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 17 and 17 steps in BA, BA+9, BA+18, BA+27, BA+36, MA+18 and MA+36 columns. For the 1973-74 year, the contract negotiated by the parties provided for a $7,100.00 base, the same index factor, and for elimination of the last four steps in each column. Provision for the approximately 22 teachers affected by the elimination of the steps was made by providing that they would be granted the same salary as if the step still existed for the 1973-74 school year.
For the 1974-75 school year, the parties negotiated a contract providing for a $7,500.00 base, the same index factor, and no provisions for the now approximately 17 teachers still affected by the elimination of the four steps. The '74-'75 contract provides, as did the '73-'74 contract, that: "This agreement sets forth the entire intent and understanding of all of the parties hereto on the subject hereof."
The defendant district then issued contracts to the teachers who had been on the eliminated steps, granting them a salary equal to their 1973-74 salary, plus the negotiated $400.00 base increase. As an illustration, a teacher who had been on step 9 of the BA column was given a contract calling for an annual salary of $10,340.00, rather than the $10,500.00 which would be obtained by multiplying the step factor of 1.4 by the base of $7,500.00. The plaintiff then filed a grievance under the contract procedure, claiming that the provision protecting the affected teachers on the eliminated steps in the '73-'74 contract was carried over the '74-'75 contract even though it was not in the new contract. Understandably, the defendant turned down the grievance. Plaintiff then filed this action.
It is the settled law of this state that the parties to a written contract are presumed to understand the import of its terms and to intend what it says. A written contract expressed in clear and unambiguous language is not subject to interpretation or construction. Hawthorne v. Cassidy , 179 Neb. 245, 137 N.W.2d 818 (1965).
Here, all parties fully considered the terminology employed, knew the negotiation history, and entered into a contract providing that it contained the entire agreement of the parties-a clause that should forestall testimony as to external "side" agreements even if there were no parol evidence rule. Here, there is no testimony of misunderstanding, of over reaching, or of a separate understanding. Instead, the Court is left with the impression that both parties carefully and deliberately entered into the new contract, and that having done so, the plaintiff found it had not done exactly what a few of its members desired, and now wants to be relieved of its bargain. Whatever may be the responsibility of the plaintiff to its affected members, we can find no reason that the '74-'75 contract should be read other than in accord with its plain terms.
Plaintiff has neither alleged facts nor offered testimony which would support a reformation of the contract. Instead, plaintiff showed that it invoked the grievance procedure in the contract which it now attacks-at the very least affirming the contract. Brisbin v. Lodge 335, Brotherhood of Railway Clerks , 134 Neb. 517, 279 N.W. 277; Muller v. Gerber , 178 Neb. 463, 133 N.W.2d 913, Cf. City of Grand Island v. AFSCME , 186 Neb. 711, 185 N.W.2d 860 (1971).
For the reasons stated, the Petition of the plaintiff is dismissed with prejudice.