Appeals from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Blair County in case of Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board v. Altoona Area School District, No. 35 March Term, 1974.
Allen E. Gibboney, for appellant, Altoona Area School Service Personnel Association.
Raymond W. Cromer, with him James F. Wildeman, James L. Crawford, and Roger M. Simon, for appellant, Pa. Labor Relations Board.
Thomas H. Lane, with him John D. Thrush, and Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, for appellee.
President Judge Bowman, and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers and Blatt. Opinion by Judge Blatt.
[ 23 Pa. Commw. Page 447]
These are appeals from a decision and order of the Court of Common Pleas of Blair County in which the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board (PLRB) was held to have improperly included five employes in a bargaining unit of school service personnel in the Altoona Area School District (School District). On October 1, 1971, the PLRB certified the Altoona Area School Service Personnel Association (Association) as the exclusive representative of the School District's secretarial employes, supportive employes, maintenance employes, and cafeteria employes, excluding among others "all confidential employes." On October 6, 1972, the Association requested the PLRB to clarify its description of the unit with regard to the secretary to the high school principal, the secretaries to each of three junior high school principals, and the payroll clerk for the School District along with other employes no longer in question. After a hearing, the PLRB determined that these five individuals were not "confidential employes" within the meaning of the order and therefore directed that they be included in the bargaining unit. Exceptions were filed and considered and the PLRB order was made final on February 28, 1974. The School District appealed to the court below which reversed the PLRB and held that the five employes in question were confidential and consequently not entitled to bargain with the unit employes. The Association and the PLRB have now filed in this Court separate appeals which are herein consolidated.
Our scope of review in such cases is to determine whether or not the findings of the PLRB are supported by substantial and legally credible evidence and whether or not the conclusions deduced therefrom are reasonable and not capricious, arbitrary, or illegal. Albert Einstein Medical Center v. Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board, 17 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 91, 330 A.2d 264 (1975). In this case, of course, the findings of the PLRB are not in
[ 23 Pa. Commw. Page 448]
dispute, but we must review the legal conclusions which the PLRB reached based on those findings.
The Public Employe Relations Act*fn1 (Act 195) grants public employes the right to organize and bargain with their public employer. Section 301(2) of the Act, 43 P.S. § 1101.301(2), however, defines "public employe" so as not to include "confidential employes," and Section 301(13), 43 P.S. § 1101.301(13), defines a confidential employe as follows:
"'Confidential employe' shall mean any employe who works: (i) in the personnel offices of a public employer and has access to information subject to use by the public employer in collective bargaining; or (ii) in a close continuing relationship with public officers or representatives associated with collective bargaining on behalf of the employer."
In determining whether or not the employes here involved were confidential, the PLRB stated that it "definitely adopted the National Labor Relations Board's [NLRB] definition of confidential employe." The National Labor Relations Act,*fn2 contains no mention of confidential employes. The NLRB has recognized, however, that, in order to protect an employer's bargaining position, employes with access to confidential information should not be included in the bargaining unit with whom the employer will be negotiating and processing grievances and it has formulated an exclusionary rule,*fn3 which it regularly applies. It is presumably this rule to which the PLRB refers, but the lower court held, and we agree, that it was error ...