Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County in case of Local 1400, Chester City Fire Fighters Association, Affiliated with the International Association of Fire Fighters, AFL-CIO, by its Trustee Ad Litem James McDonald, President of Local 1400, and on his own behalf, v. John H. Nacrelli, Mayor of Chester, Pennsylvania, and Councilmen of Chester, Pennsylvania, James Sharp, Leo Holmes, Clement McGovern and Alexander Osowski, No. 2162 of 1973.
Louis H. Wilderman, with him Meranze, Katz, Spear & Wilderman, for appellants.
Melvin G. Levy, with him, of counsel, Levy and Levy, for appellees.
President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers and Blatt. Judge Kramer did not participate. Opinion by President Judge Bowman.
[ 15 Pa. Commw. Page 591]
The Chester City Fire Fighters Association (Local 1400) has taken an appeal from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County sustaining Chester City's preliminary objections and dismissing Local 1400's complaint in mandamus.
The controversy presently before this Court has its roots in the passage of the Act of June 24, 1968, P.L. 237, 43 P.S. § 217.1 et seq., commonly referred to as Act No. 111. This statute authorizes firemen and policemen, employed by political subdivisions of the Commonwealth, to unionize and, thereafter, to engage in collective bargaining with their public employer. In 1969, Local 1400 initiated a mandamus action against the City of Chester pursuant to Act No. 111. As to that action, suffice it to say at this point that the City of
[ 15 Pa. Commw. Page 592]
Chester was directed to bargain collectively with Local 1400 concerning terms and conditions of employment. Local 1400, Chester City Fire Fighters Assn. v. Nacrelli, 52 Pa. D. & C. 2d 34 (1971).
When bargaining between Local 1400 and the City of Chester reached an impasse, the deadlocked negotiations were submitted to binding arbitration. On December 9, 1971, the arbitrators issued their arbitration award which contained the two articles presently in controversy. Article VIII(a) of the award entitled "Seniority" provided: "A. For the purpose of interpreting the applicable provisions of this Award, each member of the bargaining unit shall be deemed to have been employed by the City of Chester on the date of his last hire by a Chester fire company or by the City of Chester, whichever is earlier." In essence, this section of the award provided for "past service credits" for firemen now employed by the City of Chester who were previously employed by volunteer fire companies.
Article XVII of the award entitled "Pensions" provided: "The City shall establish a pension plan for all members of the bargaining unit in accordance with the applicable requirements of the Third Class City Code, as amended." Article XVII, establishing a pension plan, when construed with Article VIII, providing for past service credits, mandates that a fireman's eligibility for receiving pension benefits be computed from his initial date of employment, be it with a volunteer fire company or with the City, as opposed to measuring pension eligibility from the effective date of the award, January 1, 1972.
In order to implement the arbitrators' award, the Council of the City of Chester adopted Ordinance No. 79, wherein it specifically rejected that provision of the award providing for past service credits: "Whereas, prior to January 1, 1972, none of the firemen ...