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Arbitration Decisions

Negotiated Salary Scales

Community College of Beaver County Society of the Faculty, PSEA/NEA, and Community College of Beaver County, October 24, 2011

For the Society: Robert S. Abraham, Esquire

For the College: Anthony G. Sanchez, Esquire

Arbitrator: Gerald Kobell, Esquire

Issues: Timeliness of grievance and interpretation of contract language regarding starting salaries.

  • Contract language: 24.2 Starting Salaries and respective chart for years 07/08, 08/09, 09/10, 10/11.
  • 24.3 Nothing herein shall prevent the College from hiring above the negotiated starting salaries based on prior servcie or unique specialization provided an explanation is presented in writing to the SOF. Any current employee whose salary would be less than the newly negotiated starting salaries would immediately be moved to the higher rate.

The issue arose in 2010 when the Society requested information from the College on current salaries and seniority. The College complied with the request. Upon review of the salary information, the Society determined that the College had given higher starting salaries within the nursing department and failed to raise the salaries of the bargaining unit as a whole. The SOF filed a grievance on October 26, 2010.

The Society urged the Arbitrator to apply the plain language of the Subsection 24.3 and move any current employee whose salary would be less than the newly negotiated starting salary to the higher rate.

The College argued that the SOF grievance was untimely as it had twice before complied with the language in 24.3 and had alerted the Society through correspondence to its president of starting salaries at a higher rate and subsequent move of employees within the department to at or above the rate. The College further argued that the language did not operate to create a new salary scale at the time of each new hire but was meant to provide the College the necessary tools to fill hard to find faculty.

The College had notified the Society in 2008 and again in July of 2010 that it was going to utilize Section 24.3 to hire additional nursing instructors beyond the starting salaries set forth in 24.2. The College argued that the two years lapse in challenging the salaries in 2008 barred the grievance as a contractual waiver. Further, the College argued that the instant grievance was filed well-beyond the 30 day time limit.

On the issue of timeliness the Arbitrator found that the failure to grieve the 2008 salaries did not bar the hearing of the instant grievance as a past practice was not established. However, he did find that the instant grievance should have been filed 30 days from the July 2010 notification letter.

Despite the fact that the grievance was untimely the Arbitrator held that the College did not violate the contract. The Arbitrator held that the two sentences of subsection 24.3 must be read in conjunction with each other. The reference to “any current employee whose salary would be less than the newly negotiated salaries would immediately be moved to the higher rate” refers to employees similarly situated with respect to prior experience or unique specialization. The College’s interpretation of the contract did not violate the contract.

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