Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Armstrong County in case of The Armstrong School District v. The Armstrong Education Association, an Unincorporated Association; Frank Soloski, President of the Armstrong Education Association, as Trustee ad Litem for Said Association and Individually as a Member of Said Association, and All Members of the Armstrong Education Association, No. 226 June Term 1971.
Robert E. Pryde, for appellant.
Caram J. Abood, with him Green, Gibson and Abood, for appellees.
William Fearen, with him Cleckner & Fearen, for Amicus Curiae.
President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers and Blatt. Opinion by Judge Blatt.
In Armstrong Education Association v. Armstrong School District, 5 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 378, A.2d (1972), filed herewith, we considered the enjoining
of a strike which had been called by members of the Armstrong Education Association ("Association") against the Armstrong School District ("District"). We are now asked to deal with events which occurred following the issuance of that injunction.
The Association had been engaged in negotiations with the District since December 1970 over terms of its contract for the 1971-1972 school year, and had called a strike which the court below had enjoined in May 1971. On August 30, 1971, an agreement not having yet been reached, the teachers again went out on strike, and, under the authority of Section 1003 of the Public Employe Relations Act, Act of July 23, 1970, P.L. 563, No. 195, 43 P.S. § 1101.1003 (hereinafter "Act No. 195"), the Court of Common Pleas of Armstrong County, on September 14, 1971, issued an injunction ordering all striking teachers to return to work. The parties then resumed collective bargaining but were unable to come to an agreement. The Association proposed to submit the matter voluntarily to binding arbitration, but the District refused to agree. On October 26, 1971, the Court of Common Pleas, on its own motion, issued an order requiring the Association and the District to submit the dispute to binding arbitration, and the court ordered further that the findings of the arbitrators be submitted to the court to be formally entered as an order of the court. The Association and the District each appointed arbitrators, who together appointed a third, and the arbitrators met and made findings as to the specific items which a contract between the parties should contain. On December 1, 1971, the court adopted these findings, incorporated them into its final order, and directed the Association and the District to enter into a contract in conformity therewith. The District appealed to this Court, contending that the lower court had no power to order
binding arbitration, and that its order, therefore, was void. The court below relied on its broad equity powers as justifying the orders it had made.
It is argued that the jurisdiction of the court below was obtained when the District began its action under Section 1003 of Act No. 195, asking that the strike be enjoined. That Section deals with strikes by public employees and reads in part: "In such cases the public employer shall initiate, in the court of common pleas of the jurisdiction where such strike occurs, an action for equitable relief including but not limited to appropriate injunctions. . . ." It is also argued that the action of the court below is supported by cases which hold that equity may intervene where a school board has committed an abuse of discretion in determining a matter, Ritzman v. Coal Township School Directors, 317 Pa. 271, 176 A. 447 (1935), or where the school board ...