BEFORE THE ARBITRATOR
In the Matter of a Dispute Between
STANLEY-BOYD AREA SCHOOLS BUS
GENERAL TEAMSTERS UNION, LOCAL
STANLEY-BOYD AREA SCHOOLS
(Jacqueline Brunner Grievance)
Previant, Goldberg, Uelmen, Gratz, Miller & Brueggeman, S.C., by
Attorney Jill M. Hartley, 1555
North RiverCenter Drive, Suite 202, P.O. Box 12993, Milwaukee,
Wisconsin 53212-2993, on behalf
of the Union.
Weld, Riley, Prenn & Ricci, S.C., by Attorney Richard J.
Ricci, 3624 Oakwood Hills Parkway,
P.O. Box 1030, Eau Claire, Wisconsin 54702-1030, on behalf of the District.
At all times pertinent hereto, the Stanley-Boyd Area Schools Bus Drivers, General
Union, Local 662 (herein the Union) and the Stanley-Boyd Area Schools (herein the District)
parties to a collective bargaining agreement covering the period July 1, 2001, to June 30,
providing for binding arbitration of certain disputes between the parties. On June 10, 2002,
filed a request with the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission (WERC) to initiate
arbitration regarding the denial of premium pay to Bus Driver Jacqueline Brunner (herein the
Grievant), and requested the appointment of a member of the Commission's staff to arbitrate
issue. The undersigned was designated to hear the dispute and a hearing was conducted on
17, 2003. The proceedings were not transcribed. The parties filed briefs by February 19,
whereupon the record was closed.
The parties stipulated to the following framing of the issues:
Did the District violate the collective bargaining agreement by
not paying the Handicap Bus
Driver premium to the Grievant?
If so, what is the appropriate remedy?
STANLEY-BOYD AREA SCHOOLS
Regular Runs per trip
Extra Runs per hour 8.58 8.88
Training/Not driving Hr
Regular Runs 1-1 ½ hrs
Regular Runs ½ - 1 hr
Regular Runs Under ½ hr
Extra Runs per hour $6.18 $6.40
DRIVERS $21.16 $21.90
Per Trip Premium $11.03 $11.42
CHAPERONE $11.79 $12.20
The District agrees to make the current
Health and Welfare Program available to bargaining unit
employees. Employees electing to participate may do so on a self-pay basis, if eligible,
the Plan's participation requirements.
The District employs Bus Drivers to pick up and deliver its students to and from
extra-curricular events. Bus Drivers are paid on a per trip basis according to a schedule
to the contract as Exhibit "A." Exhibit "A" also includes a per trip premium of $11.42 to be
Handicap Bus Drivers.
The District owns an 11 passenger handicapped-accessible bus with a wheelchair lift,
was used to transport wheelchair bound and other special needs children. Until 2000, this
driven by Jerry Manion, and thereafter until May, 2001, by another driver. At that time, the
wheelchair bound student in the District graduated and the bus has not been in use since.
Manion and the other driver received the trip premium while driving the
even on days when the wheelchair bound student did not ride.
The Grievant, Jacqueline Brunner, was hired in 1998 as a Special Needs and
Driver at the contract rate specified for Van Drivers. In October, 2001, she was assigned to
a 30-passenger school bus and her rate of pay was increased to that of a regular Bus Driver.
through Thursday she transports 15 students in the morning and 13 in the afternoon, and has
run with 9 pickups and drop-offs. On Friday, she transports 7 students. The students range
ages 3 to 16 and include 1 student who suffers from epilepsy, 2 to 3 with seizure disorder, 2
Down's Syndrome and 5 with autism. These students present a variety of challenges,
inability to communicate, occasionally violent behavior, incontinence, inability to sit up in
unaided and inability to get on or off the bus unaided. Her bus is specially equipped with
belts, a CD player and a video monitor to accommodate the special needs of the students that
transports and also to allow her to monitor and control them. In order to qualify for her
Grievant has had to go through CPR training, unlike the other Bus Drivers. She is
categorized as a
Special Education employee for payroll purposes, which entitles the District to a subsidy
State to pay her wages. The other Bus Drivers drive regular 72-passenger buses and have to
transport a few special needs children, as well, but none with as severe difficulties as those
to the Grievant.
In April, 2002, the Grievant overheard the Union Steward tell the Union Business
she should be entitled to the Handicap Bus Driver trip premium. Thereafter, she filed the
grievance in order to seek the premium rate. The District denied the grievance and it was
according to the contractual grievance procedure, resulting in this arbitration. Additional
be referenced, as necessary, in the discussion section of this award.
POSITIONS OF THE PARTIES
The Grievant's duties entitle her to the handicap driver premium. The contract does
define the term handicap bus driver, but the Grievant is the only driver who exclusively
disabled or handicapped students on a daily basis. Each of her stops involves a
student with some special need, including autism, epilepsy and Down's syndrome.
Because of the
needs of these children, the Grievant has had to receive special training not required of the
drivers and has special problems to contend with on her route.
There is no merit to the District's position that she doesn't merit the premium
doesn't drive the bus equipped with the wheelchair lift. While the District offered third party
that a "handicap bus" is equipped with such a lift, there is no evidence that this was the
meaning of the language in the contract and no evidence of the bargaining history behind the
exists. Her duties, however, clearly show that she is entitled to the premium because the
interpretation of the language is that the premium should be paid to a driver who transports
While her bus doesn't have a wheelchair lift, it does have numerous safety devices
designed for special needs students, such a safety harnesses, additional seat belts and car
all the students she transports have some form of disability. They have communication
behavioral problems and some do not stay seated, requiring her to frequently stop the bus to
them. The premium was intended to compensate drivers for just such challenges and is
There is no past practice supporting the District's position that only driver's of the
lift-equipped bus receive the premium. Jerry Marion received the premium while driving the
bus until 2001, when the last handicapped student on his route graduated. He was not told
know why he qualified for the premium. Marion transported 1-2 wheelchair-bound students
several other students who fell into the same categories as those transported by the Grievant.
received the same CPR and first aid training as the Grievant and had the same challenges.
difference was the presence of the wheelchair-bound students. This, alone, should not
Grievant from receiving the premium, as shown by the fact that Marion received the
for days when the wheelchair-bound students didn't ride. There is no current need for the
lift-equipped bus, but special needs students remain and the District should pay the premium
to the driver
who transports them.
The District cannot rely on the fact that the Grievant did not receive the premium
first worked for the District and drove a van with special needs students. She now drives a
30-passenger bus, which is an entirely different matter. Her situation is now more analogous
in that she is the only driver in the District who is exclusively responsible for transporting
There is also no merit to the District's argument that Marion received the premium
his route was longer than the other drivers' and the Grievant's is not. District Administrator
speculated on this point, but was not present when the language was negotiated or the
and no evidence supports the contention. The Grievant's routes are also somewhat longer
other drivers' and includes a mid-day run, which theirs do not. She also makes significantly
stops to pick up and drop off students, as well as stopping en route when problems arise,
unique to her duties. She thus has more challenges and stresses than the other drivers and
paid the premium.
The preschool route and the handicap route are distinct from each other and merit
treatment. Marion was assigned the handicapped route because no one else wanted it. This
because of a number of distinctions, which don't apply to the Grievant's route and which
different treatment with respect to the premium.
Marion's route took significantly longer. His route took an average of 180 minutes,
the other routes, including the preschool route, take between 77 ½ and 132 minutes. It
a wider area, even going outside the District, which the preschool route does not. Because
contract pays the same rate for all bus trips, a premium was justified for the longer handicap
The handicap bus was specially equipped with a wheelchair lift, for which Marion
specially certified. The Grievant's bus has no such lift and is only a 30-passenger bus,
the regular 72-passenger buses of the other drivers. She began driving special needs students
in a van
and did not receive the premium, which she did not grieve. The only difference now is that
currently drives a bus. This distinction is not meaningful, especially since several other
drive special needs students.
Marion drove a different population of students than the Grievant. All his students
needs and at least one at any given time required a wheelchair. The needs of his riders
the presence of an aide on the bus to attend to them. The Grievant does not require an aide.
she transports young students, hence the designation preschool bus route, whereas Marion
transported older students, who sometimes needed transport outside the District. While she
transport students with "special needs," District Administrator Gardner testified that the
designation was specifically intended for the narrower class of "physically handicapped"
Also, preschool children without special needs are also assigned to the Grievant's bus.
The Grievant has the burden to show that the handicap bus driver designation was
to cover her route, which she has failed to do. There is no bargaining history showing the
was ever intended to be broader than that historically applied by the District, or that the
ever intended to be paid for the preschool route. There is no support for the argument that
because her students have I.E.P.s, she should receive the premium.
The Arbitrator is asked to reinterpret the contract and create a premium rate for the
route which the contract does not provide. This goes beyond the scope of the Arbitrator's
By virtue of the fact that she drives three routes per day, the Grievant is already paid more
other drivers and there is no logic or authority for attaching a premium, as well. If the
to obtain additional compensation, this should be bargained for, not sought through
The District's argument proceeds from the proposition that the per trip premium for
Handicap Bus Drivers is specifically tied to driving the 11-passenger bus with the hydraulic
wheelchair lift. It argues that this is so because the premium has historically only been paid
driver. The premium was last paid at the end of the 2000-2001 school year when the last
bound student in the District graduated. The District points out that this driver had a longer
sometimes out of the District, and drove six hours per day compared to the Grievant's five as
justification for its position. For a variety of reasons, I am not persuaded by the District's
and the grievance is sustained.
At the time the 11-passenger bus was in use, the District did not own the
The 11-passenger bus has not been used since May, 2001, whereas the 30-passenger bus was
acquired in October, so, at any given time, the District has only had one bus devoted to
special needs children. The record is unclear whether the Grievant was unaware of the
of the premium rate, or whether it did not occur to her that she was entitled to it, but in any
matter was not grieved until the Union became aware she was not receiving the premium rate
months later. It is also unclear whether the Grievant was aware that the previous driver had
receiving the premium rate. It cannot be said, therefore, that either the Union or the
acquiesced in the lower rate in the months before the grievance was filed.
Nothing in the contract indicates that the Handicap Bus Driver per trip premium is
tied to driving the wheelchair accessible bus. There is no bargaining history on the point and
of the witnesses had any independent recall of what the language was intended to mean. Past
is also of little guidance because the District never owned and operated the 11-passenger and
30-passsenger buses at the same time. Therefore, as far as the contract shows, the per trip
was intended to be paid to the driver who primarily transports the District's handicapped
a bus specially equipped for that purpose. At the present time, that is the Grievant.
I am not persuaded that the premium rate was intended to be tied either to the time or
of the route, as the District argues. The previous driver had to transport students outside the
and his daily route took an average of six hours. The Grievant does not travel outside the
and her route averages five hours. Yet, these are arbitrary figures governed by the particular
and places of residence of the students. At any given time, one or more additional students
require the Grievant to travel the same or greater distances and for an equivalent or longer
one constant is that the driver is responsible for picking up and delivering a number of
due to their special needs, require that the driver be more attentive and specially trained in
ensure their safety.
The evidence shows that the Grievant transports primarily special needs students and
only driver to do so. Her riders suffer from a number of conditions that require either
restraints or extra attention from the driver, including epilepsy, autism and Down's
syndrome. At times, she must stop the bus during her run to deal with the students
when they have
problems or get out of their restraints. She has received special CPR and first aid training
required of the other drivers and drives a specially-equipped 30-passenger bus unlike the
larger 72-passenger buses driven by the regular drivers. She is considered to be a special
by the District, by virtue of which it receives special funding to fund her position. On the
basis of the
objective evidence, therefore, I am convinced that the Grievant does qualify as a Handicap
and is entitled to the per trip premium.
For the foregoing reasons and based upon the record as a whole I hereby enter the
The District violated the collective bargaining agreement by not paying the Handicap
Driver premium to the Grievant. Therefore, the District shall make the Grievant whole by
back wages for each handicap run from October 1, 2001, through the end of the 2001-2002
year at the rate of $11.03 per trip and for each handicap run during the 2002-2003 school
year at the
rate of $11.42 per trip.
The Arbitrator will retain jurisdiction over this award for a period of sixty days to
issues arising in the implementation of this award.
Dated at Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, this 18th day of August, 2003.
John R. Emery, Arbitrator