Appeal from the Order of the Secretary of Administration in case of G. D. Roberts, B. A. Yanetti, P. R. Ciprich, M. J. O'Brien, R. V. Roth, G. W. Eddy, R. J. Piscotty, T. H. Shelar, S. P. Strawser, C. P. Miller v. Office of Administration, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
John R. White, with him Christine H. Kellett, for appellants.
Jeffrey G. Cokin, Deputy Attorney General, with him Robert P. Kane, Attorney General, for appellee.
Judge Crumlish, Jr., Mencer and Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Crumlish, Jr. Dissenting Opinion by Judge Blatt.
Ten Pennsylvania State Police Troopers (Appellants) have appealed a decision of the Secretary of Administration (Secretary) refusing them a hearing on the grievance described hereinbelow. We reverse and remand and direct the Secretary to conduct the requested hearing.
In 1969 the State Police Commissioner (Commissioner) instituted the new rank of Crime Investigation Specialist (CIS), together with a special training program, and invited state policemen to apply for it. Appellants applied and were admitted in May, 1970. They were immediately advanced to a pay scale equivalent to that of Corporal, and were removed from the normal competitive ranks and restricted to competition for promotion within the CIS series.
On March 23, 1972, the CIS program was terminated as a result of an opinion of the Attorney General wherein he stated that the program as it then existed was illegal because of the absence of rules and regulations governing it, and because the initial entry of individuals into the program was in disregard of merit principles. Appellants were thereupon reclassified to the rank of Trooper, but received no reduction in pay. At that time, a section of the Pennsylvania State Police Field Regulations provided for
an informal procedure for the airing of grievances. Though Appellants complained to their superiors about the reclassifications, they took no formal action for three and a half years. On October 29, 1975, the Commissioner promulgated a new, more detailed, four-step grievance procedure. Shortly thereafter, Appellants availed themselves of the new procedure by formally asserting their grievances in writing to their immediate supervisors (Step 1), their Troop Commanders (Step 2), the Commissioner (Step 3), and the Secretary (Step 4). They were denied relief at all levels and the Secretary denied their request for a hearing.
Appellants' argument on the merits is that the administrative action of reclassifying them from the rank of Trooper to the rank of Crime Investigation Specialist was in law a promotion and that their subsequent reclassification some two years later was a demotion, as this Court has defined the term. Appellants contend that this alleged demotion is in direct conflict with Section 205(e) of the Administrative Code of 1929,*fn1 which reads:
No enlisted member of the Pennsylvania State Police shall be . . . reduced in rank except by action of a court martial held upon the recommendation of the Commissioner of the Pennsylvania State Police and the Governor.
They claim entitlement to promotion to the rank of Corporal, a right which they say they could establish if given a hearing, and contend that to deny them a ...