|SOUTH SIOUX CITY EDUCATION|||||CASE NO. 73|
|ASSOCIATION, An Unincorporated||||
|v.|||||FINDINGS AND ORDER|
||||RE FURTHER PROCEEDINGS|
|THE SCHOOL DISTRICT OF||||
|SOUTH SIOUX CITY, IN THE||||
|COUNTY OF DAKOTA, IN THE||||
|STATE OF NEBRASKA, A||||
Theodore L. Kessner of Crosby, Pansing, Guenzel and Binning, for plaintiff.
Rodney R. Smith of Smith, Smith and Boyd, for defendant.
The Court hereby December 18, 1972, declares that the following is true and complete wording of the order announced orally in open court November 30, 1972.
The Court now enters the following findings and order:
1. That no proper matters properly are proceeding under the Teachers Professional Negotiations act; and that in accordance with our Opinion As To Jurisdiction entered March 12, 1972, in Cases 35, 36, and 38, this Court has jurisdiction of this case.
2. That bargaining may help to eliminate, define and simplify controversies and may have some possibility of resolving some or all the issues; so that in accordance with our findings and order entered March 30, 1972 in Holdrege Education Association v. The School District of Holdrege , Case number 39, bargaining should be ordered.
3. That the first paragraph of §48-816 R.R.S. Neb. necessitates setting now a trial of all the 48-818 issues which may remain after bargaining herein ordered during the next 30 days.
NOW THEREFORE IT IS ORDERED, ADJUDGED, AND DECREED:
4. That not under the Teachers Professional Negotiations act but by virtue of the order of this Court under the Court of Industrial Relations Act plaintiff and defendant forthwith shall negotiate with a view to defining, simplifying and eliminating controversies between them and to arriving at a voluntary settlement of the industrial dispute.
5. That the parties are not compelled to enter into any agreement or contract, written or otherwise.
6. That the defendant shall file on or before December 11,1972 an answer in accordance with the rules of this Court.
7. That on or before January 5, 1973 the parties jointly or one of them shall file a report of the controversies resolved by negotiations and of the issues remaining to be tried.
8. That on Friday, January 12, 1972, at 1 p.m. or as soon thereafter as the business of the Court will permit, in Courtroom No. 2 of the Supreme Court in the State Capitol Building at Lincoln, Nebraska, shall commence a trial of all issues under §48-818 then unresolved.
Before: Judges Baylor, Grant, DeBacker and Kratz.
Plaintiff and Defendant attempted to negotiate terms and conditions of employment. The negotiations were unsuccessful and after impasse was reached, each party, pursuant to the provisions of Section 70-1293 of the Nebraska Teachers Professional Negotiations Act, appointed a member to the Fact Finding Board. The third member of the Fact Finding Board, however, was never selected, and Plaintiff, therefore, filed its petition with this Court claiming we had jurisdiction, under Section 48-810, inasmuch as the provisions of the Teachers Professional Negotiations act had been exhausted without resolution of the dispute. The Petition asked us to resolve an industrial dispute between Plaintiff and Defendant and establish "a salary scale, extra duty pay schedule, and provisions for emergency and sick leave for the members of the association, and other terms, tenure and conditions of employment..."
The Court conducted a preliminary hearing "with respect to the Court's exercise of its power and authority granted by the first paragraph of Section 48-816, R.R.S. Neb., respecting temporary findings and orders concerning the resumption of bargaining", determined that it had jurisdiction, and ordered the parties to (1) return to the bargaining table "with a view to...arriving at a voluntary settlement...", (2) report to the Court before January 5 "the controversies resolved by the negotiations, and the issues remaining to be tried", and (3) commence trial on January 12 of all unresolved issues.
In response to this order, both Plaintiff and Defendant filed a separate report with the Court stating that the parties had entered into negotiations, as directed, and the negotiations had resolved the dispute over emergency leave, sick leave, and extra duty pay, and that the only unresolved dispute existing between the parties was the salary schedule for the 1972-73 school year.
Thus, the only issue presented at the trial, and the only issue before the Court for determination at this time, is the salary schedule. This Court has described in some detail the application of a typical teacher salary schedule in Scottsbluff Education Association v. School District , Case No. 70.
Both parties agree to teacher salary increases for educational advancement and additional experience, but the dispute concerns the formula for applying these increases. Plaintiff argues that the additional compensation should be based on percentage increments and the Defendant claims the additional compensation should be based on specified dollar amounts.
In behalf of their respective positions, the parties make the following arguments: Plaintiff claims the constant percentage index schedule, where the teachers salary increases for experience and additional education are based on a percentage of the base pay, provides a beneficial consistent relationship which recognizes and maintains the differentiation between the skills of teachers based upon training and experience. It encourages teachers to continue in their profession by offering a constat, predictable reward for attainment of additional skills. Defendant, on the other hand, argues that the dollar increment schedule, where the teacher's salary increases for experience and additional education is based on a specified dollar amount, provides the best system because it allows for merit increases and would allow a method for advancing the base pay sufficiently to attract new teachers. Defendant objects to the constant percentage index schedule because it weighs the increases in favor of the older, more experienced, teachers though these teachers may not be the most deserving on the basis of ability.
If the parties can voluntarily negotiate some type of merit pay increase system, as distinguished from the constant percentage increases, they may do so, and the result can be expressed in a valid and enforceable contract, but if the issue comes to this Court, we are limited by the language of 48-818, R.S. Supp., 1972, which says the Court must 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."
Clearly, the method of increasing school teachers salaries based on experience and educational advancement is a rate of pay or a condition of employment. Thus, this Court must determine what formula shall be used for horizontal and vertical wage increases on the basis of what the evidence shows is prevalent for similar workers experiencing similar skills under similar working conditions. This same issue was presented in Scottsbluff, supra, and in Valentine Education Association v. School District No. IV of Cherry County , Case No. 66. In Scottsbluff , the Court held "that an Index Schedule with the various increments expressed in terms of percentage of base is the prevalent form (as distinguished from the numbers constituting base and percentage) of wage rate," and in Valentine , we said:
Clearly, the prevalent method of increasing salaries based on experience and educational advancement in the Rangeland Conference Schools is through percentage increments, rather than dollar increments, and we can only conclude, therefore, that percentage increments must be applied in this case.
Plaintiff's witness, Richard Hallama, named 16 schools, including South Sioux City, where he considered the teachers had similar skills, work, and working conditions (Exhibit #5). His criterion for selection was similarity in school enrollment, with 7 of the schools being larger than Defendant and 8 schools smaller, though he did not use the 7 immediate larger schools or the 8 immediate smaller schools. All but three of these schools use the percentage index schedule. Defendant's comparable schools, Exhibit #9, were Sioux City, Iowa, Ralston, Norfolk, Plattsmouth, Columbus, and Fremont. Columbus, Fremont, Norfolk, and Ralston were also on Plaintiff's list, and these four duplicate schools all apply the percentage index for experience and educational advancement.
It is quite apparent, therefore, that under the evidence adduced in this case, whether it be Plaintiff's or Defendant's, it is only possible to find that the percentage index schedule is the prevalent form of providing increases based on experience and education.
The amount of total teacher compensation is not in dispute. Actually, the Plaintiff's proposal of a salary schedule of $6575, 4x4 (Exhibit #5) is about $1,000 below the Defendant's last offer.
IT IS, THEREFORE, ORDERED AS FOLLOWS:
The scale of wages for certificated teachers employed by the Defendant School District shall be computed in accordance with a salary schedule having a base salary of $6575, index increments of 4% vertically and 4% horizontally, with 3 vertical columns and 14 horizontal columns. Except as specified in this paragraph, the other aspects of compensation and terms and conditions of employment presently set or agreed upon shall remain unchanged by this order.
This matter comes before the Court upon plaintiff's motion to clarify the Court's Findings and Order. The Hearing on this motion, ordered for September 24, was postponed because Defendant's counsel was unable to attend, and this Court then ordered the matter argued in writing. Plaintiff submitted a memorandum brief, but Defendant has not replied.
The principle issue resolved by the Court's original Findings and Order was whether a flat dollar schedule, as contended for by the Defendant School District, or an index salary schedule, as contended for by the Plaintiff Teachers Association, was the prevailing form for determining the wages of teachers in the school districts found to be comparable to the South Sioux City School District. This Court held that the prevailing form for determining wages is the index salary schedule.
Plaintiff's motion to clarify requests the Court to set forth in detail the structure of the salary schedule to be observed by the parties according to the Court's order. Although the court ordered that the wages of the South Sioux City teachers be computed on a salary schedule with a base salary of $6575 and index increments of 4% vertically and 4% horizontally with 3 vertical columns and 14 horizontal columns, the evidence introduced at trial showed that both the School District and the Teachers Association applied a different factor to the last four steps on the MA column thus, no controversy existed between the parties concerning the issue of whether the last four steps on the MA column should be treated differently, internally, from the rest of the salary schedule. Moreover, inasmuch as the Defendant School District has not submitted a written argument in response to the Court's order concerning plaintiff's motion to clarify, the Court assumes that the School District presently has no substantial objection to the relief requested by the Teachers Association by its motion.
IT IS, THEREFORE, ORDERED AS FOLLOWS:
The scale of wages for certificated teachers employed by the Defendant School District shall be computed in accordance with a salary schedule having a base salary of $6575, index increments of 4-5% vertically and 4% horizontally, with 3 vertical columns and 14 horizontal columns, the 5% vertical factor applying solely to the last four steps (Steps 11 through 14) on the MA column. The detailed structure of the salary schedule herein ordered by the Court is indicated by the attached copy of Plaintiff's exhibit No. 3.
Except as specified in this paragraph, the other aspects of compensation and terms and conditions of employment previously set or agreed upon shall remain unchanged by this order.
1 South Sioux City ranks 17th in size of enrollment in the State of Nebraska. The larger schools listed by Hallama ranked 6th, 8th, 10th, 12th, 13th, 15th, and 16th, and those smaller ranked 22nd, 24th, 26th, 29th, 30th, 31st, 32nd, and 42nd.
2 Defendant's last offer provided a base wage of $6650 and an index salary schedule of $250-$300x$250.
3 The School District applied a decreasing dollar factor to each step, which increased from $490 at Step 10 to $534 at Step 11, then decreasing again from Step 11 through Step 14. The Teachers Association applied a 4% factor to each step, which increased to a 5% factor applied to each of the last four steps in the MA column.