|THE SCHOOL DISTRICT OF WEST POINT,|||||CASE NO. 636|
|IN THE COUNTY OF||||
|CUMING, IN THE STATE OF||||
|NEBRASKA, A Political||||
|v.|||||FINDINGS AND ORDER|
|WEST POINT EDUCATION||||
|ASSOCIATION, An Unincorporated||||
For the Petitioner: Rex R. Schultze
Perry, Perry, Witthoff, Guthery,
Haase & Gessford, P.C.
1400 First National Bank Building
Lincoln, Nebraska 68508
For the Respondent: Mark D. McGuire
Crosby, Guenzel, Davis,
Kessner & Kuester
400 Lincoln Benefit Building
Lincoln, Nebraska 68508
Before: Judges Cullan, Cope, and Orr
1. NATURE OF THE PROCEEDINGS
This matter came on for a determination of wages for the School district of West Point as pursuant to Section 48-818. The contract year in question is 1985-86. The West Point School District employs 49 teachers and has a total student enrollment for the 1985-86 school year of 660 students. By pretrial stipulation, filed May 19, 1986, the parties agreed to the following:
Except for base salary and total teacher compensation, the conditions of employment for the teachers employed by the West Point school District for the 1985-86 contract year shall be as previously established by agreement of the parties.
The cost of health and accident insurance for West Point and each of the compared to school districts has been omitted from the calculation of total teacher compensation, due to differences in the cost of each such district for the same or similar insurance coverage.
Work, skill and working conditions as to teaching duties, are similar and satisfy the standards set forth in Section 48-818 to permit a comparison of terms and conditions of employment between the following schools: Lyons-Decatur, Oakland-Craig, Pender, Tekameh-Herman, Wayne, and Wisner-Pilger.
The issues for resolution by the Commission are base salary, total teacher compensation and the appropriate array for Section 48-818 comparison purposes.
The Commission has jurisdiction of the parties and of the subject matter.
The Commission has jurisdiction over the parties and the subject matter of this action. The controlling statute is Section 48-818 which provides:
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. (emphasis added).
3. COMPARABLE SCHOOL DISTRICTS
The Association and the District both presented comparisons with the following seven school districts: Loganview, Lyons-Decatur, North Bend, Oakland-Craig, Pender, Wayne, and Wisner-Pilger. Tekameh-Herman, listed on the original stipulation as a common survey point, was not used by either party because it has not completed the negotiation process for the 1985-86 school year. In addition to the seven common school districts, the Association included in its array the school districts of Arlington, Bennington and Blair. The District included Scribner in its array. By Joint Stipulation filed on June 16, 1986 the parties agreed that all comparability statistics prepared for trial are correct and total teacher compensation figures from common school districts are identical when rounded off to the nearest dollar. Furthermore, the parties stipulated that the work, skill and working conditions of the teachers employed at North Bend, Loganview, Scribner, Arlington, Bennington and Blair 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 Commission's array.
When choosing an array of comparable employers under Section 48-818, the Commission considers evidence of the relative size and proximity of proposed array members to the employer in question as well as other evidence indicating the employments selected for comparison are sufficiently similar and have enough like characteristics or qualities to make comparison appropriate in that situation.
Additionally, the Commission has often held that employers used for the purpose of comparison should generally range from one-half to twice as large as the employer in question. Diller Education Ass'n v. School District 103 , 7 CIR 196, 200 (1984).
Where the factor of comparability of size argues for the inclusion of a district in an array, but the factor of geographic proximity argues for exclusion, the factor of comparability of size should be allowed to control. See, Sioux City Education Ass'n v. School District of South Sioux City , 3 CIR 90 (1976). This is true so long as the distance involved does not vary greatly from those typically used by the Commission in establishing arrays of employers.
We have repeatedly made reference to community of interest as a factor to be utilized in selecting members of the Commission's array. This factor, however, should be used together with the factors of geographic proximity and size limitations to aid in the exclusion of districts which are too large or too small or too far away from the litigating district. Size and geographic proximity represent objective factors which can be applied consistently to proposed array members, whereas determining whether a sufficient community of interest exists requires subjective judgment. We have held previously that community of interest alone can not be determinative of comparability.
To allow this ephemeral factor to dominate over the more objective tests of size and proximity would inject into our 48-818 determinations a battle of subjective judgment as to the degree of interest created by various contacts among school districts. This type of evidence would lengthen the proceedings, but, in our judgment, would not make any substantial contribution to the ultimate determination of prevalence and comparability. The whole thrust of our case has been to make the standards in teacher pay cases under 48-818 as objective and easy of application as is consistent with the statutory mandate...
Tecumseh Education Ass'n v. School District of Tecumseh , 2 CIR 119-5 (1975).
The Commission will evaluate potential array members, first by the objective criteria of size and geographic proximity and then, as necessary, by more subjective indications of comparability.
Six of the seven districts agreed upon by the parties are members of the East Husker athletic conference. Wayne is the exception. The District argues that although Scribner does not meet the objective size criteria of one half to twice as large as the compared to District, it should be included in the Commission's array, in part due to its participation in the East Husker athletic conference. While the Commission has frequently looked to athletic conference in determining comparability, depending on the circumstances of each individual case, the athletic conference may or may not be used for purposes of comparison. South Sioux City Education Ass'n v. School District of South Sioux City , 3 CIR 90 (1976). Athletic conference alone is not indicative of comparability.
The Commission's primary concern when choosing an array for Section 48-818 purposes is to find comparable school districts with similar working conditions. Since all schools are somewhat comparable, and all working conditions for teachers in the state are somewhat similar, in deciding which schools are to be considered we look at the most comparable school and the most similar working conditions. Wood River Education Ass'n v. School District No. 83 , 2 CIR 115 (1975).
Whenever possible, the Commission also strives to achieve an array balanced with school districts both larger and smaller than the district at issue. See, Diller Education Ass'n at 200 . West Point is the largest school district in its conference; consequently, the parties had a difficult time arriving at a balanced common array within the conference. Of the seven common school districts presented by the parties, six are smaller and only one is larger. Loganview has less than one half the student enrollment of West Point but has been mutually agreed upon for inclusion in the Commission's array. Such an agreement by the parties will not be disturbed by the Commission.
We have considered all the evidence of comparability presented by the parties. Except for Blair and Scribner, all the school districts offered fall approximately within the objective guidelines set out for student enrollment and geographic proximity. These two factors are a strong indication of same or similar work, skills and working conditions. We find that the following school districts are sufficiently similar and have enough like characteristics and qualities to make comparison appropriate in this situation: Loganview, Lyons-Decatur, North Bend, Oakland-Craig, Pender, Wayne, Wisner-Pilger, Bennington and Arlington.
4. BASE SALARY AND TOTAL TEACHER COMPENSATION
The only issue in dispute is base salary. The parties have recognized the fact that by adjusting the base salary of the teachers, total teacher compensation will subsequently be effected. Pursuant to previous decisions by the Commission, the figures for Bennington were adjusted by the Association for the differences in contract days between Bennington and West Point. All the other school districts in the Commission's array have 185 contract days,the same as West Point, therefore no adjustment was necessary. Applying the statutory criteria of Section 48-818 to the evidence in this case, we find that the base salary for teachers at West Point for the 1985-86 school year should be $13,150.00 and the total teacher compensation should be $892,746.00.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED:
1. That the base salary for the teachers of West Point School District shall be $13,150 for the 1985-86 contract year.
2. Total teacher compensation at West Point School District shall equal $892,746.00 for the 1985-86 contract year.
3. That except for base salary and total teacher compensation all terms and conditions of employment for the teachers employed by the West Point School District for the 1985-86 contract year shall be as previously established by agreement of the parties.
All Judges assigned to the panel in this case join in the entry of this Findings and Order.
Entered July 31, 1986.