|PLATTE COUNTY DISTRICT NO. 24|||||CASE NO. 537|
|TEACHERS ORGANIZATION, an||||
|v.|||||OPINION AND ORDER|
|SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 24, PLATTE||||
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 Mullin, Gradwohl and Davis
The Association asks the Commission to determine terms and conditions of employment for the 1983-84 contract year. The District admits the industrial dispute and joins in the request for a resolution. The District, a Class I School District, employed nine (9) teachers (8.86 full-time equivalent) and had a student enrollment of 126 students for the 1982-83 school year.
The parties agreed in their pretrial Stipulation that "the terms and conditions of employment for the teachers employed by the school district for the 1983-84 contract year shall be as previously established by the agreements made by the parties" except for:
a. Base Salary;
b. Index Salary Schedule;
c. Paid Sick Leave;
d. Paid Personal Leave;
e. Paid Professional Leave; and
f. Paid Health Insurance Benefits.
The Commission has jurisdiction of the parties and the subject matter of this action.
The controlling statute is Section 48-818, which states:
The findings and order or orders may establish or alter the scale of wages, hour 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 District both presented comparisons with the following four school districts: Bellwood, Hooper, District 501 Hall County, and District 9 Platte County. The Association also presented comparisons with the school districts of Atkinson, Bassett, Burwell, Oshkosh, Grant, District 5 Lincoln County, North Bend, District 10 Platte County, District 507 Phelps County and Wood River. The District also presented comparisons with the school districts of District 1 Colfax County and St. Libory. All schools presented are Class I School Districts. The parties stipulated that the work skills and working conditions of the teachers employed in all sixteen (16) of the compared to districts 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 rank, enrollment, county, number of miles from District 24, FTE teachers, class, and limited testimony on the community of interest of the districts with District 24. Table 1 sets out most of the above information about 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 Ass,& 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 to 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). However, the Commission has also ruled that a larger statewide array can be limited when there is a sufficient number of similar size districts within close geographic proximity to the district involved.
See Bellwood Faculty Association v. School District Number 3R, 6 CIR 396 (1983). The evidence in this case shows there is a sufficient number of similar size districts within close geographic proximity to District 24. The enrollment at Grant (268) is more than twice the number of students at District 24 and is therefore excluded because of its size as well as its distance from District 24. The districts of Atkinson (137 miles), Bassett (155 miles), District 5 (219 miles), District 507 (149 miles), Grant (291 miles), and Oshkosh (308 miles) are excluded because they are not as geographically proximate to District 24 as the following school districts selected for comparison purposes: Bellwood, Burwell, District 1 Colfax County, District 9 Platte County, District 501 Hall County, Hooper, No. Bend, Platte County 10, St. Libory and Wood River Elementary. All of these school districts are within 111 miles of District 24.
In including Bellwood and Hooper in the array, we note the discrepancy in fringe benefit figures shown in Table 2. We have selected both schools in spite of these discrepancies because both parties included Bellwood and Hooper in their proposed arrays. In each instance, we have resolved the discrepancy by accepting the District's figure as the burden of persuasion is on the Association.
3. Base Salary.
One of the issues in dispute in this case is the amount of the base salary for teachers in School District Number 24. The school schedule in District 24 calls for 180 teacher contract days during the 1983-84 school year. Only two of the school districts included in the array we have chosen, Bellwood and District Number 501, Hall County, have the same number of contract days as District 24. The remaining school districts have a higher number of contract days, ranging from 183 days to 190.
Section 48-818 states, among other things, 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 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 evidence in the present case shows that the teachers are obligated by contract to serve 180 days during the 1983-1984 school year. It is true that there may be variances, presumably downward, in the actual number of days served by teachers in District 24 and the other comparable schools. The Commission, however, is called upon in this proceeding to place a value on the 180 contract days to which the parties have agreed and have become legally obligated. Were the School District to choose to limit the teachers' obligations to the statutory minimum 175 school days and nothing more, it would, nevertheless, according to the evidence in this record, be legally obligated to pay for the 180 contract days for which the parties have contracted.
We find that an adjustment in the standard salary schedule should be made in this case to take into account the differences in contract days between School District Number 24, Platte County and the other school districts whose school schedule calls for something other than 180 teacher contract days. See School District No. 125, Frontier County, a/k/a Medicine Valley Public Schools v. Curtis Education Association, 7 CIR 96, 101-02 (1983); Republican Valley Educational Association v. School District No. 109R, 7 CIR 58, 62-63 (1983); West Holt Faculty Association v. School District 25 of Holt County, 5 CIR 301, 313-314 (1981); Bellwood Faculty Association v. School District Number 3R, 6 CIR 396 (1983); Dorchester Education Association v. School District, 6 CIR 408 (1983). 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 compensation figures, adjusted to take into account variances in the number of contract days among the various school districts, as well as variances in credit for outside teaching experience, which were agreed upon by the parties, are shown in Table 2.
4. Index Salary Schedule.
Table 3 is a comparison of the salary schedule structures of the various school districts contained in the array showing index factors, columns and number of steps in each column of the various schedules.
As Table 3 indicates, the use of an index salary schedule is prevalent practice among the school districts included in the array.
The salary schedule currently used by the Respondent school district is virtually identical to the one proposed by the Association. Both schedules use a 4 x 4 index factor and both schedules provide for the same number of steps in each of the following columns "BA", "BA + 9", "BA + 18" and "BA + 27".
The two schedules differ only in that the Association's schedule includes an additional column for a bachelors degree plus 36 credit hours of additional study or a master's degree, "BA + 36 or MA". It is not necessary to address the issue of whether or not the index salary schedule in this case should contain a "BA + 36 or MA" column since the evidence does not show that any teacher would be placed in that column during the 1983-84 school year.
5. Sick Leave, Personal Leave and Professional Leave.
Table 4 shows the following provisions for sick leave, personal leave and professional leave of the school districts included in the array:
6. Paid Health Insurance Benefits.
The District is currently paying $62.32 per month health insurance for Blue Cross/Blue Shield coverage for each teacher. This has a total value of $6,730.56 and the parties have agreed in argument that it should remain at that figure.
7. Determination as to "Overall Compensation."
Section 48-818 provides 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 may, therefore, vary from case to case depending upon the evidence introduced by the parties.
Although the provisions for sick leave, personal leave and professional leave vary widely among the school districts, we find that nine days of annual sick leave, up to thirty days of accumulated sick leave, two days of annual personal leave and two days of annual professional leave are comparable to the prevalent conditions among the school districts. As a result, we find that the teachers in School District 24, should have the same leave and accumulated leave provisions as are prevalent in the array.
Applying the statutory criteria of Section 48-818 to the evidence in this case, we find that the base salary of the teachers in School District Number 24, Platte County, Nebraska shall be $12,240.00 for the 1983-84 school contract year. This represents a standard salary schedule of $125,024.26 (base salary amount of $12,240.00 multiplied by a staff index factor of 10.2144), plus fringe benefits of $6,730.56, which makes the total teacher compensation for the purpose of these calculations: $131,754.82.
Table 5 demonstrates the index salary schedule for School District Number 24, Platte County as a result of this decision.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED:
1. That the base salary amount of School District Number 24, Platte County teachers shall be $12,240.00 effective at the beginning of the 1983-84 school contract year.
2. That the teachers in School District Number 24 shall have nine days of annual sick leave, up to thirty days of accumulated sick leave, two days of annual personal leave and two days of annual professional leave during the 1983-84 school contract year.
3. That all other conditions of employment shall remain unchanged for the 1983-84 school contract year.
4. This Order shall be effective for wages and conditions of employment with respect to the 1983-84 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 February 15, 1984