Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County in cases of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Labor Relations, Board v. Franklin Township Municipal Sanitary Authority; and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board v. Utility Workers Union of America, AFL-CIO, and Glenn Thomas, No. 383 of 1976.
A. C. Coney, Jr., with him Kirkpatrick, Lockhart, Johnson & Hutchinson; Christ. C. Walthour, Jr., and Kunkle, Walthour and Garland, for appellant.
Raymond W. Cromer, with him James L. Crawford, and James F. Allmendinger, for appellee.
Judges Wilkinson, Jr., Rogers and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Wilkinson, Jr. Dissenting Opinion by Judge MacPhail.
This is an appeal from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County affirming an order of the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board (PLRB) directing the Franklin Township Municipal Sanitary Authority (appellant) to submit the issue of the dismissal of an employee who is a member of the bargaining unit to binding arbitration pursuant to the terms of the collective bargaining agreement. We affirm.
The facts relate to the dismissal of a maintenance worker and the subsequent efforts of the Utility Workers Union of America, AFL-CIO (union) to have the dismissal processed through the grievance procedure outlined in the collective bargaining agreement, the final step of which is binding arbitration.*fn1 The appellant agreed to "meet and discuss" the issue with the union, but not to submit the issue to binding arbitration.
The union then filed an unfair labor practices charge with the PLRB. Following a hearing, the PLRB issued a nisi decision and order finding the appellant had committed an unfair labor practice in violation of Section 1201(a)(5) of the Public Employe Relations Act (PERA), Act of July 23, 1970, P.L. 563, as amended, 43 P.S. § 1101.1201(a)(5), and directing the appellant to submit the issue of the propriety of the dismissal to binding arbitration.
Throughout the proceedings, appellant has maintained that it lacks the power to bind itself in a collective bargaining agreement to submit the question of the propriety of a dismissal of an employee to binding arbitration by reason of Section 703 of the PERA, 43 P.S. § 1101.703, when read in conjunction with Section 4(B)(g) and (j) of the Municipality Authorities Act of 1945, Act of May 2, 1945, P.L. 382, as amended, 53 P.S. § 306(B)(g) and (j). Section 703 of the PERA provides, in pertinent part, "The parties to the collective bargaining process shall not effect or implement a provision in a collective bargaining agreement if the implementation of that provision would be in violation of, or inconsistent with, or in conflict with any statute or statutes enacted by the General Assembly. . . ." Subsection (B)(g) and (j) of Section 4 have been interpreted by our Supreme Court to mean that public authorities have no power, absent a grant of the legislature, to enter into contracts of employment which would prevent such authorities from dismissing employees at will. Scott v. Philadelphia Parking Authority, 402 Pa. 151, 166 A.2d 278 (1960); see also, Mahoney v. Philadelphia Housing Authority, 13 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 243, 320 A.2d 459 (1974) (allocatur refused), cert. denied, 419 U.S. 1122 (1975). In Mahoney, supra, this Court specifically rejected the notion that the enactment of PERA changed the law
with respect to the powers of municipal authorities rendered in Scott, supra. However, Mahoney did not deal with employees who were members of a bargaining unit, but rather dealt with employee property rights in continued employment.
Thus, the narrow issue for resolution in this case is whether the legislature through the PERA granted authorities the power to enter into a collective bargaining agreement that would subject its otherwise exclusive power to ...