8 CIR 126 (1985)


ASSOCIATION, An Unincorporated |
Association, |
Petitioner, |
COUNTY, NEBRASKA, also known as |
Respondent. |


For the Petitioner: Mark D. McGuire

Crosby, Guenzel, Davis,

Kessner & Kuester

400 Lincoln Benefit Building

Lincoln, Nebraska

For the Respondent: Rex R. Schultze

Perry, Perry, Witthoff, Guthery,

Haase & Gessford, P.C.

1400 First National Bank Building

Lincoln, Nebraska

Before: Judges Mullin, Kratz, and Gradwohl


Petitioner alleges an industrial dispute exists between the parties over the terms and conditions of employment for the 1984-85 contract year. Specifically, Petitioner seeks changes in:

1. Base salary,

2. Paid health insurance/full family dental insurance,

3. Paid life insurance and related benefits, and

4. Paid sick leave.1

Respondent agrees these are in dispute and asks us to also determine whether paragraphs 10, 11, 13, and 17 of the agreement negotiated by the parties for the previous year, the 1983-1984 contract year, should be stricken. Specifically, Respondent alleges that those paragraphs should be stricken either because they are not mandatory bargaining subjects or because they do not reflect the prevalent practice among the school districts chosen for comparison.

By joint stipulation,2 this action was submitted on exhibits, briefs and stipulated facts. Petitioner objected on relevancy to Respondent's exhibits 26, 26a, 26b, 26c and 26d. Rulings on those objections were reserved.3 The case was submitted for decision on June 17, 1985, with the receipt of Respondent's Reply Brief.

The Commission has jurisdiction of the parties and the subject matter of this action.4

1. Comparable School Districts

This dispute involves the determination of terms and conditions of employment. We are governed by ยง48-818 R.R.S. 1943 (Reissue 1984) which provides in part:

.....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....

1The question of self-development requirements raised in the petition was withdrawn when the issues were agreed upon at the pre-trial conference.

2Exhibit 27.

3Transcript 7:4. Those objections are now sustained.

4Section 48-810 R.R.S. 1943 (Reissue 1984).

To determine the prevalent wage rates and conditions of employment, each party has submitted a number of Class I school districts for comparison. Both parties agree that the following seven schools are comparable: Bellwood, Burwell, Hall County 1R-501, Hooper, Platte County #10, St. Libory and Wood River. Petitioner argues in its brief that we could also use Bassett, Atkinson and Platte County #9 while Respondent argues that the inclusion of Platte County #9, Platte County #24 and Colfax County #1 with the seven agreed upon would be satisfactory. The parties agree that the work skills and working conditions of the teachers employed in all of the districts proposed for comparison are similar and satisfy the standards set forth in Section 48-818.5 The evidence of similarities between the proposed schools and North Bend Elementary is set forth in Table 1.

Since each of the proposed schools is sufficiently similar and has enough like characteristics or qualities to make comparison appropriate, Platte County District No. 24 Teachers Organization v. School District No. 24, Platte County , 7 CIR 167 (1984), and since we have obtained a reasonable balance of five larger to seven smaller schools, we have selected an array involving all twelve (12) schools.6

The discrepancies in the cost of benefits noted in Table 3 and in the salary structure at Wood River noted in Table 4 have been resolved in favor of Respondent as the burden of persuasion was on Petitioner.

2. Insurance Fringe Benefits

Respondent provides a "cafeteria plan" of insurance benefits. Under this plan, each teacher receives long-term disability benefits of .0063 of gross salary. In addition, each teacher receives a health insurance/annuity option. Under this option, if a teacher elects dependent health insurance coverage, it costs the district $180.48 per month. If, on the other hand, the teacher elects single health insurance coverage at a cost of $66.51 per month, he or she also receives the difference of $113.97 per month in the form of an annuity.7 The insurance fringe benefits of the other schools are shown in Tables 2 and 3.

6Petitioner offered comparison information about additional Class I schools but did not include those in its argument.

7Exhibit 27.

Respondent argues that to place it "in line with the prevalent practice among the compared to districts, the health insurance and related benefits package for North Bend teachers should provide for single health insurance coverage for single teachers, dependent coverage for those with families, and a long term disability policy the cost of which is not to exceed .0063 of the gross salaries paid the faculty." Respondent asks that we determine that the annuity option it pays to teachers taking only single health insurance coverage is not prevalent and that it be discontinued.

In our analysis it appears that four of the schools provide no additional benefits for health insurance over the minimum single coverage. There is one which provides only single coverage but pays $158.33 per month for that coverage as opposed to the normal $66.51 per month. Seven of the schools provide full dependent coverage where needed although two of those seven require three to six years experience in the district to earn these added benefits. Only Atkinson Elementary also offers the annuity to those taking single coverage. Faced with similar evidence in Bellwood Faculty Association v. Bellwood Elementary School , 6 CIR 396 (1983), we found that the prevalent practice was to provide full single and full dependent coverage but not the annuity option.

We find that the Respondent shall contribute the full premium of $66.51 per month for single health insurance coverage and the full premium of $180.48 for dependent health insurance coverage.

The parties stipulated8 that three teachers qualified for the annuity benefits during the school year for 1984-1985 by taking single coverage. Of those three, two had received the annuity each month and one has not. With respect to those teachers, the parties further stipulated:

3. That in the event the Commission finds that the District shall not pay the annuity benefits described in Paragraph "2" above, to the three teachers receiving single Blue Cross/Blue Shield benefits for 1984-1985, that the compensation paid to those teachers be adjusted through deductions in their monthly salary so as to achieve the total compensation for each individual teacher pursuant to the Order entered by the Commission for the 1984-85 contract year; specifically adjusting the compensation of the two teachers receiving the annuity benefits by subtracting from their total compensation for the 1984-85 school year the sum of $113.97 for each month compensation was paid for that contract year.9

We find that the Respondent shall not pay the annuity benefits for the 1984-85 school year. In addition, based upon the stipulation, we find that the two teachers who received the benefit shall reimburse Respondent the amount of $113.97 for each month they received the annuity. However, the reimbursement is to be paid from and limited by sums due to each of the two teachers by reason of our adjustment in base salary. We do not intend for either of the two teachers to reach into his pockets for this reimbursement since all but one month of the year in question has elapsed. See I.B.E.W., Local 1521 v. M.U.D ., 6 CIR 246 (1982). "...For employees to be required to repay excessive wages or to require future wages to be still further reduced by the already paid excess would create severe hardships on employees and place severe strain on the employer-employee relationship." Id. at 262.

8Exhibit 27.

9Exhibit 27.

3. Paid Sick Leave

Although for different reasons, both parties have requested in argument that we make no changes in paid sick leave for 1984-85.

4. Base Salary

Section 48-818 requires that we take into consideration all wages received as well as all insurance and other benefits when determining wage rates. Reducing the insurance benefits at Respondent school by the amount of the annuities for the teachers in question leaves us with fringe benefits in the amount of $16,392.00.10 Table 4 sets forth the compensation figures for the array selected and the figures have been adjusted for contract day variances as well as differences in credit allowed for outside teaching experience.

We find that the base salary for the teachers shall be $12,556.00 ($170,198.59-$16,392 divided by the staff index factor of 12.25).

5. Provisions of Prior Year Contract

The parties have continued to operate under the general terms of their contract for school year 1983-84. There are several terms of that contract which Respondent wants stricken from the contract even though that contract has expired and the parties did not execute a new one for the school year in question, 1984-85. Obviously, Respondent is not concerned about these provisions as they relate to either school year 1983-84 or school year 1984-85 as both are concluded.11 The only conclusion we can reach is that Respondent foresees these as points of discussion for school year 1985-86 and future years. Respondent is asking for an advance determination--a decision before there is a dispute.

The pleadings describe this as a case involving an industrial dispute for the 1984-85 school year which has passed. We do not accept Respondent's invitation to give guidance to the parties for future years. See School District No. 125 v. Curtis Education Association, 7 CIR 96 (1983).

10Exhibit 5 shows fringe benefits at Respondent to be $20,495.12 Subtracting $4,103.00 for the annuities leaves $16,392.12.

11The parties so stipulated as to school year 1984-85 at page 4, line 8:15.


l. That the base salary for North Bend Elementary teachers shall be $12,556.00, effective at the beginning of the 1984-85 school contract year;

2. That Respondent shall contribute the full premium of $66.5l per month for single health coverage or $180.48 per month for dependent health coverage depending on an individual teacher's circumstances;

3. That all other fringe benefits shall remain unchanged; and 4. Any amounts due for the portion of the contract year already elapsed shall be paid as soon as feasible following the entry of this order.

Entered July 24, 1985.