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SCHOOL DISTRICT PITTSBURGH v. PITTSBURGH FEDERATION TEACHERS (08/19/77)

decided: August 19, 1977.

SCHOOL DISTRICT OF PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA
v.
PITTSBURGH FEDERATION OF TEACHERS, LOCAL 400, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF TEACHERS, AFL-CIO ET AL., APPELLANTS. (2 CASES)



Appeals from the Orders of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in case of School District of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania v. Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, Local 400, American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO; Albert Fondy, President; Joseph F. Zunic, Executive Secretary; Rufus Jordan, Vice President; Paul Francis, Vice President; Nancy Ewing; Bernard Murray; Mary VanHorn; Donna Babir; Joan Wallace; Richard Nash; Fred Ebeling; Mario Lacenere; Saul Diamond; Brenda Faulkner; Katherine Andrews; Willie Briscoe; Jane Roberson; Joseph Tyson; individually and as trustees ad litem, and All Members of the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, Local 400, G.D. 75-29448.

COUNSEL

Louis B. Kushner, with him Stephen H. Jordan, Sandra R. Kushner, and Rothman, Gordon, Foreman and Groudine, for appellants.

Persifor S. Oliver, Jr. Assistant Solicitor, with him Justin M. Johnson, Solicitor, for appellee.

President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers and Blatt. Judge Kramer did not participate in the decision. Opinion by Judge Blatt. Judge Mencer concurs in decision only. Concurring Opinion by Judge Crumlish, Jr.

Author: Blatt

[ 31 Pa. Commw. Page 463]

On November 1, 1975, the appellants engaged in a strike against the appellee school district. On December 22, 1975, the appellee filed a complaint in equity seeking, in part, a preliminary injunction to be made permanent upon final hearing, which would enjoin the

[ 31 Pa. Commw. Page 464]

    strike pursuant to Section 1003 of the Public Employe Relations Act*fn1 (PERA), 43 P.S. ยง 1101.1003. This section of PERA provides, inter alia, as follows:

If a strike by public employes occurs after the collective bargaining processes set forth in sections 801 and 802 of Article VIII of this act have been completely utilized and exhausted, it shall not be prohibited unless or until such a strike creates a clear and present danger or threat to the health, safety or welfare of the public. 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 and shall be entitled to such relief if the court finds that the strike creates a clear and present danger or threat to the health, safety or welfare of the public. . . . Prior to the filing of any complaint in equity under the provisions of this section the moving party shall serve upon the defendant a copy of said complaint as provided for in the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure applicable to such actions. Hearings shall be required before relief is granted under this section and notices of the same shall be served in the manner required for the original process with a duty imposed upon the court to hold such hearings forthwith.

On January 3, 1976, after five days of hearings, the lower court issued a decree, entitled "Decree Awarding A Preliminary Injunction," which provided in part, as follows:

And Now, to-wit, this 3rd day of January, 1976, plaintiff having presented its Complaint in Equity in open court and having moved for a

[ 31 Pa. Commw. Page 465]

Preliminary Injunction, upon consideration thereof and after a full and complete hearing thereon wherein all parties have been afforded an opportunity to be heard, it is the finding of this Court that the strike of the defendants, and each of them, against the plaintiff creates a clear and present danger or threat to the health, safety or welfare of the public, and that the plaintiff is entitled to equitable relief including but not limited to an appropriate injunction.

Eleven paragraphs followed which were designed to effectuate the decree and which specifically enjoined the appellants from engaging in various activities. On January 5, 1976, the appellants appealed to this Court from the injunction, which appeal has been docketed at No. 46 C.D. 1976.

On January 5, 1976, the appellee filed a petition to institute contempt proceedings against the appellants because of their failure to comply with the injunction, and the lower court set the hearing on the petition for January 7, 1976, at which time, after a short continuance, the lower court held a hearing and found the appellants in contempt of court. The contempt order provided, in part, as follows:

And Now, to wit, this 7th day of January, 1976, it is hereby Ordered, Adjudged, and Decreed:

1. We find the defendants are in willful civil contempt of the Order of this Court which was issued on January 3, 1976, and they are adjudged in civil contempt ; therefore the Rule to Show Cause is made absolute;

2. The Order is that defendants purge themselves of civil contempt by discontinuing all acts and conduct which are in ...


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