Byrd R. Brown, Brown & Cotton, Pittsburgh, for petitioner.
James F. Wildeman, Raymond W. Cromer, James L. Crawford, Pa. Labor Relations Bd., Harrisburg, for Pa. Labor Relations Bd.
Jones, C. J., and Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Jones, C. J., and Eagen and Pomeroy, JJ., concur in the result.
Petitioner Employees' Committee of the Wilkinsburg Sanitation Department (Union) seeks allowance of appeal*fn1 from an order of the Commonwealth Court affirming dismissal by the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board (Board) of unfair labor practice charges filed by petitioner against respondent Borough of Wilkinsburg (Borough). For the reasons stated below, we grant the petition for allowance of appeal and affirm on a ground other than that relied upon by the Commonwealth Court.*fn2
The facts leading to the filing of the instant unfair labor practice charges are extensively set out in the findings
of the Board, which are contained in the opinion of the Commonwealth Court. Borough of Wilkinsburg v. Sanitation Department, 16 Pa. Commw. 640, 643, 330 A.2d 306, 308-11 (1974). We summarize them here only so far as necessary to indicate the procedural posture of the case.
The Union has been certified under the Public Employee Relations Act*fn3 as the exclusive collective bargaining representative of the employees of the Borough's sanitation department. The collective bargaining agreement formerly in effect between the parties expired on December 31, 1971, and negotiations regarding a new agreement were conducted in the early months of 1972. While these negotiations were in progress, the employees continued to work under the terms and conditions in effect at the time the agreement expired.
The Borough, concerned with what it viewed as the excessive cost of refuse collection, sought an agreement which would reduce that cost. When the Union refused to agree to terms which the Borough viewed as necessary to that end, the Borough sought bids from private contractors to ascertain the cost of providing refuse collection in that fashion. The bids received by the Borough indicated that a substantial reduction in cost could be effected by contracting out the work previously performed by the employees of the sanitation department. Further negotiations were conducted in which the Borough sought concessions which would enable it to continue its own refuse collection operation at a cost comparable to that of hiring a private contractor. The Union refused to make such concessions. On March 27, 1972, the Borough Council entered into a three year contract for garbage and trash collection with a private contractor. All employees of the sanitation department were discharged, although
they were given first priority to fill any vacancies in the Borough's ...