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WASHINGTON ARBITRATION CASE (11/28/69)

decided: November 28, 1969.

WASHINGTON ARBITRATION CASE


Appeal from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Washington County, Jan. T., 1969, No. 114, in the matter of arbitration between the City of Washington, Pennsylvania, and the Police Department of the City of Washington, Pennsylvania.

COUNSEL

Jerome Hahn, City Solicitor, for appellant.

Robert L. Ceisler, with him Patrono, Ceisler and Edwards, for appellee.

Bell, C. J., Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts and Pomeroy, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Roberts.

Author: Roberts

[ 436 Pa. Page 170]

Resort to binding arbitration for the resolution of labor disputes between political subdivisions of this Commonwealth and their police and fire department

[ 436 Pa. Page 171]

    employees was authorized by the Act of June 24, 1968, P. L. [ILLEGIBLE WORD], 43 P.S. § 217.1 et seq. (Supp. 1969). Under the authority of this statute the City of Washington entered into negotiations with its policemen. It soon became apparent that no voluntary agreement could be reached and that the parties would have to invoke the arbitration provisions of the aforementioned statute. Arbitration was entered into, hearings were held, and an award was given on December 11, 1968. There were no procedural irregularities in the arbitration process, but the city challenged that portion of the award which required that it provide, "at its sole expense, hospitalization coverage for the members of the family of each member of the Police Department of the City of Washington, equal to the coverage now provided . . . for the member himself." The city has at all times contended that it would be illegal for it to make such payments.

After the arbitration award was handed down the city instituted an action in the Court of Common Pleas of Washington County, alleging that it was appealing from the arbitration award. Appellee Police Department questioned both the right of the city to "appeal" the award and the merits of the city's claim. The trial court found, inter alia, that the city did not have the right to appeal the award and that the city was wrong on the merits in any event. The city filed exceptions to the trial court's opinion, appealed its decision, and concurrently petitioned this Court to allow an appeal under Rule 68 1/2 directly from the arbitration award.

We hold that the Court of Common Pleas of Washington County had no jurisdiction to hear this cause. The statute authorizing this arbitration clearly provides that "the determination of the majority of the board of arbitration thus established shall be final on the issue or issues in dispute and shall be binding upon the public employer and the policemen or firemen involved.

[ 436 Pa. Page 172]

. . . No appeal therefrom shall be allowed to any court." Act of June 24, 1968, P. L. [ILLEGIBLE WORD], 43 P.S. § 217.7(a) (Supp. 1969). This Court has long recognized that the Legislature has the right to preclude appeals. See Keystone Raceway Corp. v. State Harness Racing Comm., 405 Pa. 1, 173 A.2d 97 (1961); DeVito v. Civil Service Comm., 404 Pa. 354, 172 A.2d 161 (1961); Dauphin Deposit Trust Co. v. Myers, 401 Pa. 230, 164 A.2d 86 (1960). The city argues, albeit in a less than cogent fashion, that several recent alterations in the organic and statute law of the Commonwealth have changed this doctrine. We do not agree.

The city's first contention is that Article V, Section 9 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, together with several recent statutes designed to implement its provisions, requires that it be given a right of appeal.*fn1 Article V, Section 9, states that: "There shall be a right of appeal in all cases to a court of record from a court not of record; and there shall also be a right of appeal from a court of record or from an administrative agency to a court of record or to an appellate court. . . ." This provision is inapplicable to the ...


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