|BELLWOOD FACULTY ASSOCIATION,|||||CASE NO. 487|
|An Unincorporated Association,||||
|v.|||||OPINION AND ORDER|
|SCHOOL DISTRICT NUMBER 3R,||||
|BUTLER COUNTY, NEBRASKA,||||
|a/k/a BELLWOOD ELEMENTARY||||
|SCHOOL, A Political Subdivision,||||
For the Petitioner: Mark D. McGuire
Crosby, Guenzel, Davis,
Kessner & Kuester
400 Lincoln Benefit Building
For the Respondent: Kelley Baker
Nelson & Harding
P.O. Box 82028
Before: Judges Kratz, Orr and Davis.
This matter came on for a determination of wages and other conditions of employment for Bellwood Elementary School teachers for the 1982-1983 contract year pursuant to Section 48-818. Bellwood is a Class I school district (kindergarten through 8th grade) employing ten teachers and has a student enrollment of 143 students.
The parties stipulated at the pretrial conference held in this matter that "[e]xcept for base salary and paid health insurance, the terms and conditions of employment for the teachers employed by the School District for the 1982-1983 contract year shall be as previously established by the agreements made by the parties." 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 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. 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."
2. Comparable School Districts.
The Association and the School District both presented comparisons with the following five school districts: Burwell, Hall Co. 1-R (Dist. 501), Hooper, North Bend, and St. Libory. The District also presented comparisons with the school districts of Hall Co. (No. 3), Platte Co. (No. 9), and Platte Co. (No. 10). The Association in addition presented comparisons with the school districts of Adams Co. (Dist. 15), Adams Co. (Dist. 60), Atkinson, Bassett, Grant, Hyannis, Oshkosh, and Wood River. The parties stipulated that the work skills and working conditions of the teachers employed by Bellwood and the teachers employed in all of the compared to districts offered by the Association and District are similar, and satisfy the standards set forth in Section 48-818 to permit a comparison of terms and conditions of employment if included in the array of compared to School Districts by the Commission.
The evidence in this case as to the compared to School Districts, in addition to the stipulation as to work skills and working conditions, consists of the size and ranking of the districts by student enrollment, school district class, whether the district has K-6 or K-8 students, the full-time equivalent teacher number, the miles distant from Bellwood, and the county in which the district is located. Table 1 sets out the above information about the school districts from 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).
The Commission in prior cases involving Class I Districts has based its Section 48-818 determinations on similar size districts throughout the state. This has been the case because of a lack of a sufficient number of similar size districts within close geographic proximity of the district involved in the Section 48-818 determination. See District 15 Education Association v. School District No. 15 , 5 CIR 347 (1982), Schuyler Education Association v. School District No. 2 , 5 CIR 92 (1980), Hall Teachers Association v. School District No. 5 , 4 CIR 114 (1979), Oshkosh Education Association v. School District No. 131 , 3 CIR 243 (1977), Murray Education Association v. School District No. 55, 3 CIR 62 (1976), and District 8 Elementary Teachers Association v. School District No. 8 , 2 CIR No. 95 (1974). However, in this case the evidence shows that there is a sufficient number of similar size districts within close geographic proximity to Bellwood. The enrollments at District 15 of Adams County (63 students) and Hyannis (45 students) are less than half the number of students at Bellwood and are therefore excluded because of their size. The districts of Atkinson (142 miles), Bassett (173 miles), Grant (287 miles) and Oshkosh (310 miles) are excluded because they are not as geographically proximate to Bellwood as the following school districts selected for comparison purposes: Adams County (District 60), Burwell, Hall County 1-R (District 501), Hall County (No. 3), Hooper, North Bend, Platte County (No. 9), Platte County (No. 10), St. Libory, and Wood River. All of the school districts selected are within 116 miles of Bellwood.
3. Employer Contribution to Insurance or Annuity.
The amount of employer contribution to health insurance or annuity was unresolved by the parties. The District in the prior contract year provided $85/mo. per teacher to be applied to health/accident insurance or to an annuity. The District argues that the prevalent practice is for the employer to pay an amount for single and dependent health insurance coverage and not to contribute a lump sum amount for the teacher to apply to health/accident insurance and/or annuity. The information regarding the insurance contribution in the compared to school districts is shown in Table 2 following:
Eight of the ten schools contributed the full premium ($50.73) for single coverage in the NSEA endorsed Blue Cross BlueShield H/A program. Five of the ten schools contribute the full premium ($137.27) for dependent coverage in the same H/A program, but only two (Burwell and North Bend) of the five contribute this amount in the first year of employment. District contributions toward an annuity, family dental insurance, long-term disability insurance and term life insurance is not the prevalent practice among the compared to school districts.
The Commission finds that the District shall contribute the full premium of $50.73 for single health insurance coverage and the full premium of $137.27 for dependent health insurance coverage.
4. Base Salary
The other remaining issue for the Commission's determination is the base salary amount for Bellwood's teachers. The District argued in its post-trial brief that Bellwood's teachers work fewer days than in the compared to school districts and, thus, the Commission should reduce its Order as to salary by 2,30665% to reflect this difference in contract days or extend the number of contract days in Bellwood from 180 to 184.25, the average of the District's array.
The Association argues in its post-trial brief that the number of contract days worked is irrelevant to these proceedings. The Association points to a stipulation with the District "that the work, skill and working conditions of the teachers employed by the School District and the teachers employed at the compared to school district are similar, and satisfy the standards set forth in Section 48-818 to permit a comparison of terms and conditions of employment if included in the array of compared to school districts by the Commission." The Association also argues that no evidence has been presented that the number of contract days was an issue in discussions between the District and Association.
The following Table 3 shows the number of contract days and teaching days of the schools in the array and at Bellwood.
The Commission has declined to adjust annual teacher compensation based on differences in contract lengths in Beatrice Education Association v. School District , 3 CIR 323, 329-331 (1978), Columbus Education Association v. School District , 5 CIR 425, 4388-439 (1981), and in Broken Bow Education Association v. School District , 6 CIR 60, 73-74 (1982), but did make an adjustment in West Holt Faculty Association v. School District 25 of Holt County , 5 CIR 301, 313-314 (1981). Similarly, the Commission has made adjustments based on differences in work week hours in Fraternal Order of Police Local No. 12 v. County of Adams , 3 CIR 585, 590 (1978), affirmed , 205 Neb. 682, 289 N.W.2d 535 (1980).
The Commission distinguished the Columbus case and West Holt case on the facts presented, as stated in West Holt (5 CIR at 313-314):
"In the Columbus case, the Commission said: 'The teachers enter into a contract for a school term, without particular regard to the number of days involved in that term.' 3 CIR 385 at 391. The undisputed evidence in this case [West Holt] requires a departure from that finding. Here, the Association's expert witness testified that teaching employees should expect additional compensation if additional contract days are required and testified as to methods of adjustment generally based on a daily measurement.
"...The evidence shows that the number of contract days were unilaterally established by the Board to accommodate farm families, but as noted above the evidence also shows that teachers' salary expectations are related to the number of contract days. The Commission finds on the evidence in this case that an adjustment in basic salary should be made for a lesser number of contract days..."
The evidence shows that Bellwood has fewer number of contract days than Burwell (1985), Hooper (190), North Bend (185), Platte Co. No. 9 (183), Platte Co. No. 10 (183), and St. Libory (188). The principal testified that if a teacher missed one day of work, he or she would have their salary reduced by 1/180th of their total salary (43:2-4). The past president of the Association testified that the subject of contract days was not brought up during the negotiations with the District (46:25-47:3).
The Commission finds that an adjustment in the standard salary figures and long-term disability figures (where based on a percentage of gross salary) is necessary to reflect the shorter contract period in Bellwood. The overall compensation figures and adjustments to a 180 contract day period are shown in Table 4.
Section 48-818, R.R.S. 1943, 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 maintained 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.
Applying the statutory criteria of Section 48-818 to the evidence in the case, we find that effective at the beginning of the 1982-83 school contract year the base salary amount for Bellwood teachers shall be $11,200.00. This represents a standard salary schedule of $145,152.00 (base salary amount of $11,200.00 multiplied by a staff index factor of 12.96), plus fringe benefits of $16,991.14 which makes the total teacher compensation for the purpose of these calculations: $162,143.14.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED:
1. That the base salary amount for Bellwood Elementary School teachers shall be $11,200.00, effective at the beginning of the 1982-83 school contract year.
2. That the District shall contribute $50.73 per month toward single coverage and $137.27 per month toward dependent coverage health insurance from Blue Cross/Blue Shield, effective at the beginning of the 1982-83 school contract year.
3. This Order shall be effective for wages and conditions of employment with respect to the 1982-83 school contract 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.
Filed January 11, 1983