This action was removed from the Erie County Court of Common Pleas on August 9, 1977. On November 16, 1977, plaintiff's motion to remand was denied. Following discovery, the parties filed cross motions for summary judgment. Plaintiff's motion will be denied; defendants' motion will be granted.
On December 12, 1972, defendant Local No. 2666 was certified by the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board (PLRB) to represent a bargaining unit "In a subdivision of the employer unit comprised of all nonprofessional employees employed by the Erie County Hospital (now the plaintiff) . . ., excluding all supervisors, first-level supervisors, management and confidential employees and guards as defined in Act 195." See Exhibit 1 attached to Casey deposition. The parties do not dispute that the individual defendants in this case were employed as guards within the meaning of the PLRB certification from that date until their discharge in May 1977. On May 25, 1977, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) clarified the bargaining unit again to exclude security guards. See Exhibit A attached to Stipulated Facts. In between the date of the PLRB certification and the NLRB clarification, however, security guards were treated by the plaintiff and its predecessor as being members of the bargaining unit. Defendants now seek to arbitrate whether they are entitled to various benefits and seniority rights accrued but unused during the period between the PLRB certification and the NLRB clarification.
Plaintiff again attacks this court's jurisdiction. The court reads St. Louis Mailers Union Local No. 3 v. Globe-Democrat Pub. Co., 350 F.2d 879 (8th Cir. 1965), cert. denied 382 U.S. 979, 86 S. Ct. 552, 15 L. Ed. 2d 470 (1966), reh. denied 383 U.S. 931, 86 S. Ct. 927, 15 L. Ed. 2d 850 (1966), to include within the ambit of federal jurisdiction cases in which a claim is made to rights existing under a past or present labor agreement. This is particularly evident in light of the national policy favoring arbitration of labor disputes. See Teamsters Local 174 v. Lucas Flour Co., 369 U.S. 95, 82 S. Ct. 571, 7 L. Ed. 2d 593 (1962).
Initially, the court notes that summary judgment may be granted only where there is no genuine issue as to any material fact. Further, all inferences and doubts must be resolved against the moving party. Ely v. Hall's Motor Transit Co. (3rd Cir., 1978) 590 F.2d 62.
In the instant case, plaintiff contends that since both the 1972 PLRB and the 1977 NLRB certifications excluded security guards from the bargaining unit, the guards were not parties to the contract and therefore can assert no rights thereunder. Alternatively, plaintiff maintains that even if defendants were treated by plaintiff as being members of the bargaining unit, any inclusion of them within the coverage of the collective bargaining agreement was void ab initio. Finally, plaintiff asserts that even if the individual defendants were treated as being members of the bargaining unit and such inclusion was lawful, Article 32 of the labor agreement automatically adjusted the contract to exclude them.
It is true that both the Pennsylvania statute (43 Pa.C.S.A. § 1101.604(3)) and the federal statute (29 U.S.C. § 159(b)(3)) preclude the certification by the PLRB or the NLRB of a bargaining unit which includes both security guards and other employees. Further, as a general rule bargaining agreements which are in violation of law or public policy are void ab initio. Hairston v. McLean Trucking Co., 520 F.2d 226 (4th Cir. 1975).
In the instant case, the court finds that notwithstanding the 1972 certification by the PLRB of a bargaining unit which excluded security guards, the actions of the plaintiff and its predecessor in the negotiations with the union constituted a de facto inclusion of the guards in the unit for the purpose of coverage under the collective bargaining agreement. Specifically, James T. Casey, Personnel Director and Labor Negotiator for Erie during the time in question, testified in deposition that security guards were treated as members of the bargaining unit without dispute. (T. 7-8). Further, Angelo J. Criscione, Assistant Council Director for District Council 85, stated that the union committee that negotiated the initial contract included a security guard (T. 15) and that security guards (who were considered by the employer to be "watchmen") voted in the election conducted by the PLRB. (T. 16-17). Finally, a security guard was the president of the union at one time. (T. 7). Thus, the security guards were considered by the employer to be legal members of the bargaining unit.
Plaintiff's contention that since both the PLRB and the NLRB are precluded by statute from certifying a bargaining unit which includes both security guards and other employees the de facto inclusion in this case was contrary to law thereby rendering the collective bargaining agreement void ab initio is not well taken. It has been held that 29 U.S.C. § 159(b)(3)
(which is substantially identical to 43 Pa.C.S.A. § 1101.604(3)):
does not operate to prevent guard employees from joining a labor organization, and this principle extends to labor organizations which also represent non-guard employees. Indeed, the real significance of (§ 159(b)(3)) is the restrictions which it imposes on the Board. Specifically, (§ 159(b)(3)) provides two things: (1) the Board may not determine that a unit is appropriate for purposes of collective bargaining if the unit includes both guards and non-guards; and (2) the Board may not certify a union as bargaining agent for guards if that union represents both guards and non-guards.