Appeals from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County in case of In the Matter of the Arbitration between Borough of Media and the Members of the Media Police Department, No. 77-1818.
Alexander A. DiSanti, with him Richard, Brian, DiSanti & Hamilton, for Members of Media Police Department.
D. Barry Gibbons, with him Gibbons, Buckley and Smith, for Borough of Media.
President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Blatt, DiSalle and Craig. Judges Rogers and MacPhail did not participate. Opinion by President Judge Bowman. Dissenting Opinion by Judge Craig. Judge Crumlish, Jr. joins in this dissent.
[ 40 Pa. Commw. Page 401]
Pursuant to Pa. R.C.P. No. 247(b), members of the Media police department brought this appeal from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County denying the relief requested in their application for review of an award of an arbitration board. Appellee Borough of Media filed a cross-appeal here asserting that the lower court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the application for review because it was not timely filed.
[ 40 Pa. Commw. Page 402]
The source of this conflict is the award of the majority of a three member board of arbitration appointed in accordance with Section 4 of the Act of June 24, 1968, P.L. 237, 43 P.S. § 217.4 (hereinafter referred to as Act 111). The panel was convened to resolve an impasse in collective bargaining negotiations between the Borough of Media and its police department. The specific provision of the award in dispute is the grant of the Borough's proposal that the award be for a two year term. The arbitrator chosen by the police refused to join in the award and filed a dissenting opinion to the effect that an award governing wages and benefits for two years (1) deprived the police of their rights under Act 111 which, he concluded, contemplated collective bargaining on an annual basis, and (2) improperly permitted the Borough council to bind its successors. The police department members' application for review of the award reiterated this two pronged argument. We conclude, as did the lower court, that it should be rejected.
It is clearly established that an arbitration panel such as the one rendering the award here in issue "may not mandate that a governing body carry out an illegal act." Washington Arbitration Case, 436 Pa. 168, 176, 259 A.2d 437, 442 (1969). Appellant police department members contend that the issuance of an award applicable for two years is implicitly in conflict with Section 3 of Act 111, 43 P.S. § 217.3, which provides:
Collective bargaining shall begin at least six months before the start of the fiscal year of the political subdivision or of the Commonwealth, as the case may be, and any request for arbitration, as hereinafter provided, shall be made at least one hundred ten days before the start of said fiscal year.
[ 40 Pa. Commw. Page 403]
In the appellant's analysis, the quoted language is indicative of a legislative intent to require collective bargaining to begin six months before each and every fiscal year of a political subdivision. To the contrary, the Borough of Media argues and the lower court found that Section 3 does not require annual activity but rather establishes the time perimeter within which collective bargaining must be conducted when the parties seek a labor agreement.
Nothing in the remainder of the act provides guidance as to the legislative intent regarding the frequency of negotiations. In an earlier case involving Section 3 of Act 111, we found: "Act 111 . . . is designed to protect not only the rights of the collective bargaining agent and of the employer but of the public as well to efficient government through the timely adoption of municipal budgets and of necessary implementing legislation." International Association of Firefighters v. City of Johnstown, 21 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 223, 226, 344 A.2d 754, 755-56 (1975) rev'd on other grounds, 468 Pa. 96, 360 A.2d 197 (1976). Here, the public interest in efficient government is protected by perpetuating the labor peace achieved through the procedure established in Section 3. To permit the outcome of negotiations and possibly arbitration to govern a two year period does not deprive either the members of the ...