Appeal from order of Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County, No. 743 of 1969, in case of Thomas Harney et al. v. Marius T. Russo et al.
C. Norwood Wherry, for appellant.
A. A. DiSanti, with him Howard Richard, and Richard, Brian & DiSanti, for appellees.
Bell, C. J., Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts and Pomeroy, JJ. Opinion by Mr.Justice Roberts.
This case presents a head-on attack, under both state and federal constitutions, upon the validity of the Act of June 24, 1968, P. L., 43 P.S. § 217.1 et seq. Appellees, police officers and police chief in the Borough of East Lansdowne, brought a mandamus action to compel appellants, the Borough Council of East Lansdowne, to enact legislation to carry out the award made by a board of arbitrators in accordance with the Act of June 24, 1968. The act in question authorizes collective bargaining between policemen and firemen and their public employers, provides for arbitration to settle disputes when the parties have bargained to an impasse, and makes the determination of the arbitrators binding upon the public employer and the employees. The court below denied appellants' preliminary objections in the nature of a demurrer, granted appellees' motion for a summary judgment, and appellants took this appeal,*fn1 claiming: (1) that the act is not authorized by the Amendment to Article III, § 31 of the Pennsylvania Constitution; (2) that the act violates Article II, § 1 of the Pennsylvania Constitution; (3) that the act is invalid under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution; and (4) that the act denies to appellants rights guaranteed by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.*fn2 We reject all of appellants'
arguments and affirm the decision of the court below upholding the statute.
Pennsylvania Constitutional Issues
An historical analysis is necessary in order to properly decide the issues presented under the Pennsylvania Constitution. Prior to the passage of the Act of June 24, 1968, labor disputes between policemen and firemen (and other "public employees") and their public employers were settled under the Act of June 30, 1947, P. L. 1183, as amended, 43 P.S. § 215.1. In Erie Firefighters Local No. 293 v. Gardner, 406 Pa. 395, 178 A.2d 691 (1962), this Court held, by affirming per curiam on the opinion of Judge Laub in the court below, 26 Pa. D. & C. 2d 327 (1961), that the Act of June 30, 1947, was not binding on the public employer, and alternatively,*fn3 that if it was binding, it would violate Pennsylvania Constitutional Article III, § 31.*fn4
At the time of the Erie Firefighters decision, Article III, § 31 provided that "The General Assembly shall not delegate to any special commission, private corporation or association, any power to make, supervise or interfere with any municipal improvement, money, property or effects, whether held in trust or
otherwise, or to levy taxes or perform any municipal function whatever." If the arbitrators' award were held to be binding on the public employer, Erie Firefighters ruled that Article III, § 31 would be violated, since "the power to fix municipal salaries and to create a pension plan is non-delegable under our ...