|SCHUYLER EDUCATION ASSOCIATION,|||||CASE NO. 385|
|An Unincorporated Association,||||
|v.|||||OPINION AND ORDER|
|SCHOOL DISTRICT NUMBER 2, COLFAX COUNTY,||||
|NEBRASKA, a/k/a SCHUYLER GRADE SCHOOL,||||
|A Political Subdivision of the State of||||
For the Plaintiff: Theodore L. Kessner and Mark
For the Defendant: Kelley Baker.
Before: Judges Gradwohl, Wall and Berkheimer.
This matter came on for trial for a determination of wages and other conditions of employment pursuant to Section 48-818. The parties agreed that there are two areas of dispute for the 1980-1981 school contract year:
1. Base salary.
2. Board paid contribution for health insurance premiums.
The Commission has jurisdiction of the parties and of the subject matter.
The controlling statute is Section 48-818, which states:
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 orders 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. Any order or orders entered may be modified on the commission's own motion or on application by any of the parties affected, but only upon a showing of a change in the conditions from those prevailing at the time the original order was entered.
Defendant, Schuyler Grade School, is Nebraska's second largest Class I public school district. It has 600 students in kindergarten through eighth grade and maintains two school buildings. Most of the students are from the city of Schuyler, although the district consists of approximately 30 square miles. The separate Schuyler High School district covers approximately 200 square miles. Graduates from Schuyler Grade School comprise roughly two-thirds of the students in Schuyler High school, a Class VI public school district.
The Association presented two proposed arrays. The array preferred by the Association at the conclusion of the evidence and in its post-hearing Brief consisted of the five largest Class I districts in Nebraska other than Schuyler Grade School: Engleman Public School District (Hall County); Gordon Elementary District; Imperial Elementary District; Kimball Public Elementary District; and Valentine Public Elementary District. The other Association array consisted of six Class III schools in the Central Ten Athletic Conference: Albion, Central City, Crete, Fairbury, Ord, and York. Schuyler High School is a member of the Central Ten Athletic Conference but Schuyler Grade School is not a member of the Central Ten. Schuyler Grade School teachers attended a Central Ten Conference inservice training session last year for a special fee, but, otherwise, Schuyler Grade School has only minimal contacts with Central Ten schools except Schuyler High School. A wage dispute involving the Schuyler High School teachers is also pending before the Commission at this time (Case No. 390).
The District presented an array consisting of six Class III schools: Arlington, Ashland, David City, Madison, Wayne, and Wisner-Pilger, and two Class I schools: Gordon Elementary District and Valentine Public Elementary District. Schuyler Grade School
has athletic contacts, primarily at the eighth grade level only, with four of the Class III schools, but, otherwise, has no significant contacts with any other schools in its proposed array. The District recognized, as have prior decisions of the Commission, that athletic competition at the elementary level is much less significant than the community of interest among schools in most high school athletic conferences.
The parties stipulated that all of the teachers in the proposed arrays presented by both parties perform the same or similar skills under the same or similar working conditions, but with the understanding that the Commission can select an array from these employments pursuant to Section 48-818 for reaching its decision in this matter. In addition to the stipulation, the evidence consists of the Class of the district, student enrollments (the District's evidence shows total K-12 enrollments and not elementary enrollments for the Class III districts), geographic proximity to Schuyler, and testimony as to the relationship of Schuyler Grade School to the Central Ten Conference schools, elementary school athletic competition, and a few other matters pertaining to community of interests. Table 1 sets out some of the information concerning the school districts in the proposed arrays.
In selecting employments for the purpose of comparison in arriving at comparable and prevalent wage rates and conditions of employment, the question is whether, as a matter of fact, the employments selected for comparison are sufficiently similar and have enough like characteristics or qualities to make comparison appropriate in that situation. Fraternal Order of Police v. County of Adams , 205 Neb. 682, 685, 289 N. W. 2d 535, 537 (1980); Omaha Assn. of Firefighters v. City of Omaha , 194 Neb. 436, 441, 231 N. W. 2d 710, 713 (1975); Crete Education Assn. v. School Dist. of Crete , 193 Neb. 245, 255, 226 N. W. 2d 752, 758 (1975). Since this is a factual determination to be made in each case, the use of a particular array in one case does not require that the same group of employments would be appropriate in a different case. Crete Education Assn. v. School Dist. of Crete , 193 Neb. 245, 255, 226 N. W. 2d 752, 758 (1975).
With respect to Class I Nebraska public school districts, the Commission has, in the past, based its Section 48-818 determinations on similar Class I school districts throughout the state. This has been based on evidence in those cases indicating a lack of a sufficient number of comparable teacher employments within close geographic proximity. In Hall Teachers Association v. School District Number 5, Lincoln County , 3 CIR 114, 121 (1979), the Commission stated:
In the case of Class I school districts, where there is a lack of a sufficient number of comparable school districts within close geographic proximity, the Commission utilizes districts of comparable size and class from a larger portion of Nebraska in which teachers exhibit like or similar skills under the same or similar working conditions. Oshkosh Education Association v. School District No. 131 , 3 CIR 243 (1977); Murray Education Association v. School District No. 56 , 3 CIR 62 (1975); District 8 Elementary Teachers Association v. School District No. 8 (North Bend Grade School) , 2 CIR 95-1 (1974).
This rule as to Class I districts is primarily a factual determination rather than a rule of law. The evidence in the present case warrants its application in this instance. The parties are agreed that the Class I districts, Gordon Elementary District and Valentine Public Elementary District, should be included in the array despite their substantial distance from Schuyler and the lack of any showing as to a community of interest. Although closer to Schuyler, the only significant communities of interest as to the Association's Central Ten Conference array and the District's array are an in-service teacher training session, eighth grade athletic competition, and some informal discussions among some of the administrators. Engleman Public School District, the state's largest Class I district, has 660 students compared to 600 for Schuyler Grade School and is just 82 miles from Schuyler. Kimball and Imperial, the state's third and fourth largest Class I districts, are, in terms of comparability as to Class, student enrollment, and distance from Schuyler, similar to Gordon Elementary District and Valentine Public Elementary District, the two agreed upon districts. An array consisting of Engleman, Gordon, Imperial, Kimball, and Valentine is suitable and appropriate for the settlement of this industrial dispute. From the evidence in this case, and applying the above criteria for selecting comparable employments, it is determined that a suitable array for the purposes of Section 48-818 consists of teachers in Engleman Public School District (Hall County), Gordon Elementary District, Imperial Elementary District, Kimball Public Elementary District, and Valentine Public Elementary District.
3. Determination as to "Overall Compensation."
Section 48*-818 states that "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." This rule of overall compensation does not require an identity of benefits, but that the overall compensation be "comparable to the prevalent wage rates paid and conditions of employment for the same or similar work of workers exhibiting like or similar skills under the same or similar working conditions." These determinations must be made on the basis of the evidence introduced by the parties in the trial of the case. The determinations under Section 48-818, R. R. S. 1943, may, therefore, vary from case to case depending upon the evidence introduced by the parties.
The two issues for determination by the Commission are base salary and Board paid contribution for health insurance premiums. The evidence establishes the following salary and fringe benefit comparisons as compiled in Table 2. The actual salaries currently paid at Schuyler are not contained in the evidence.
Table 3 compares the insurance benefits of Schuyler to those of the array school districts.
Applying the statutory criteria of Section 48-818 to the evidence in this case, we find that effective at the beginning of the 1980-1981 school contract year, the base salary amount for Schuyler Elementary School teachers should be $10,500.00 and that the employer contribution to the dependents' coverage in health insurance shall be $80 per month. This represents a standard salary schedule of $457,498.78 (base salary amount, $10,500, times staff index factor, 43.571312), fringe benefits of $30,191.00 and an overall compensation of $487,689.78.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that:
1. The base salary amount for Schuyler Elementary School teachers shall be $10,500.00, effective at the beginning of the 1980-1981 school year.
2. The District shall pay $80.00 per month for dependents' coverage in health insurance, effective at the beginning of the 1980-1981 school year.
This Order shall be effective for wages and conditions of employment with respect to the 1980-1981 school year. The adjustments resulting from this Order shall be made ratably over the twelve months of the school contract year. The amount due for the portion of the school contract year already elapsed shall be paid as soon as feasible following the entry of this Order.
All Judges assigned to the panel in this case join in the entry of this Opinion and Order.
Entered October 31, 1980.