Case No. 00-22
                                      Issued:  August 24, 2000  
                  Complainant, )          
                               )           INTERIM ORDER ON
     v.                        )       MOTION TO STAY INTEREST
                               )       ARBITRATION PROCEEDINGS
                  Respondent.  )

     At the prehearing conference conducted by Neutral Chair
Peter T. Dawson on August 23, 2000, the Kittery Education
Association presented a Motion to Stay Arbitration Proceedings. 
At issue in the prohibited practice complaint now before the
Board is whether either or both of the parties have refused to
bargain in good faith by insisting on proposals at fact finding
and at interest arbitration that the other party claims are not
mandatory subjects of bargaining.  In resolving the case, the
Board will be required to determine whether the four specific
subjects at issue are mandatory, non-mandatory, or illegal
subjects of bargaining.  The basis for the Motion for Stay of
Arbitration is that proceeding to binding interest arbitration
prior to the Board's determination of the mandatory status of
these issues will result in an arbitration award concerning
issues which arguably should not be before the arbitrators.
     The interest arbitration proceeding in question is scheduled
for Tuesday, August 29, 2000.  Due to the short time frame in
which to address this motion, the Board Chair requested oral
argument by the parties which was transcribed and delivered to
the other Board members on the afternoon of the prehearing
conference.  After consideration of the Motion, the Board
concludes that it does not have the statutory authority to stay
an arbitration proceeding and, therefore, the Motion to Stay must


be denied.

     In the unique circumstances of this case, however, the Board
strongly urges the interest arbitration panel to, on its own
motion, postpone its hearing until the Board has determined the
mandatory status of the proposals in dispute through the
prohibited practice complaint process.  The Maine Uniform
Arbitration Act authorizes the arbitrators to postpone a hearing
"upon request of a party and for good cause, or upon their own
motion".  14 M.R.S.A 5931(1).   The Board is convinced that the
pending case before it constitutes a compelling reason for
postponement of the interest arbitration hearing given the nature
of the issues in dispute and the basic premise that only
mandatory subjects of bargaining are appropriate at interest
arbitration, absent agreement of the parties.

     It is the MLRB's exclusive jurisdiction to determine what
constitutes a mandatory subject of bargaining and consequently
which subjects a party may insist on to impasse without violating
the duty to bargain in good faith.  In the present case, there is
no controlling case law on whether the four issues on the table
are mandatory subjects, non-mandatory subjects, or illegal
subjects.  The Board is required to make these determinations in
the first instance.  Our concern in this case is heightened
because the Municipal Public Employees Labor Relations Law
specifies that the interest arbitration panel's decision is
binding on all matters except wages, pensions and insurance.  
26 M.R.S.A. 965(4).  All of the disputed proposals in the case
before the Board are issues for which the interest arbitration
panel's decision would be binding.  The binding nature of
interest arbitration in Maine makes it very likely that either
one party or the other's rights will be prejudiced if the
interest arbitration panel decides the case before the MLRB has
resolved the prohibited practice complaint.


     A copy of this order will be delivered by fax and by
ordinary mail to the members of the Interest Arbitration Panel at
the same time it is sent to the parties' representatives.

Dated at Augusta, Maine, this 24th day of August, 2000.

                                   MAINE LABOR RELATIONS BOARD

                                   Peter T. Dawson

                                   Karl Dornish, Jr.
                                   Employer Representative

                                   Wayne W. Whitney
                                   Employee Representative