No. 22 May Term, 1977, Appeal from the Order of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, dated January 20, 1976 at No. 169 C.D. 1975, reversing Order of Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board dated January 13, 1975, PERA-C-4802-C
Forest N. Myers, James F. Wildeman, James L. Crawford, Asst. Attys. Gen., for appellant.
Stephen A. Sheller, Philadelphia, for appellee, Catherine Finney.
Thomas H. Lane, John D. Thrush, Harrisburg, for appellee, Commonwealth.
Eagen, C. J., and O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ.
On March 31, 1972, Catherine Finney an "Assistance Technician Trainee," was demoted by her employer the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Fayette County Board of Assistance (hereafter, Commonwealth or employer). The Pennsylvania Social Services Union (Union), representing Catherine Finney, invoked the grievance procedure provided in the collective bargaining agreement in effect between it and the Commonwealth, seeking to have her reinstated to her former status. The grievance was submitted to arbitration without objection by either party.
On February 8, 1974, the arbitrator ordered the Commonwealth to reinstate Catherine Finney to her former position. Although the Commonwealth did not seek judicial review of that decision, it refused to comply with the award and did not reinstate Finney to her former position. The Union then sought enforcement of the award pursuant to The Public Employe Relations Act (PERA) Act of July 23, 1970, P.L. 563, No. 195, art. XIII, § 1301, 43 P.S. § 1101.1301, by filing an unfair labor practice charge with the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board (hereafter PLRB or Board). The Union's complaint alleged that the Commonwealth had violated § 1201 of the Act, (43 P.S. § 1101.1201) which states,
"(a) Public employers . . . are prohibited from:
(8) Refusing to comply with the provisions of an arbitration award deemed binding under section 903 of Article IX [43 P.S. § 1101.903]."
PLRB issued a complaint and held a hearing. At the hearing, the Commonwealth presented a defense alleging that the award was invalid and a nullity because the arbitrator exceeded his authority and used Commonwealth supervisory manuals (which were not a part of the agreement between Commonwealth and its employees) in arriving at a decision. The Board refused to consider the defenses raised by the Commonwealth because the Commonwealth had failed to appeal the arbitrator's decision. On July 15, 1974, the Board issued a nisi order directing enforcement of the ...