Original jurisdiction in case of Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and Caryl M. Kline, Secretary of Education of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Jerome H. Gerber, with him Elliot A. Strokoff, James L. Cowden, and Handler and Gerber, for petitioner.
David H. Allshouse, Deputy Attorney General, with him Norman J. Watkins, Deputy Attorney General, and Edward G. Biester, Jr., Acting Attorney General, for respondent.
President Judge Bowman and Judges Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers, Blatt, DiSalle and MacPhail. Judges Crumlish, Jr. and Craig did not participate. Opinion by President Judge Bowman.
[ 44 Pa. Commw. Page 194]
Before the Court at this time for disposition are preliminary objections raised by the respondent Commonwealth and Secretary of Education to an amended motion to confirm arbitration award filed by the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF). This statutory proceeding to be initiated by a motion is taken pursuant to Section 9 of the Act of April 25, 1927 (Act), P.L. 381, as amended, 5 P.S. § 169, which states:
At any time within one year after the award is made any party to the arbitration may apply to the court having jurisdiction for an order confirming the award, and thereupon the court shall grant such an order unless the award is vacated, modified or corrected as prescribed in the next two sections. . . .
The arbitration award sought to be confirmed directs "that a general salary increase in the amount of 4.5% shall be given to all employees in the instant two bargaining units represented by APSCUF, to be made retroactively effective with the beginning of the pay period including August 31, 1977." The Commonwealth
[ 44 Pa. Commw. Page 195]
did not appeal the award but also did not pay the salary increase for the period from September 1, 1977 through June 30, 1978, although it has compensated the faculty members at the higher salaries since the latter date.
One preliminary objection*fn1 raised by the Commonwealth questions the jurisdiction of the Court to entertain this motion to confirm. Respondents would have us conclude that no forum exists wherein APSCUF could obtain confirmation of the award. To produce such a remarkable result respondents point to countervailing statutory provisions: Section 18 of the Act, 5 P.S. § 178, conferring upon common pleas courts jurisdiction over causes brought pursuant to the Act, and the exclusive jurisdiction of the Commonwealth Court over causes brought against the Commonwealth or its officers as otherwise prescribed by statutory law. Thus, respondents contend that since the creation of this Court, no forum exists to hear a motion to confirm an arbitration award to which the Commonwealth is a party.
Respondents misconceive the problem. The issue is not the want of a forum to entertain such a motion but rather, under the ostensibly conflicting statutory law, the choice of forum, i.e., whether this Court or a common pleas court enjoys such jurisdiction. We conclude ...