Appeals from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Cambria County in case of Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board v. Greater Johnstown Area Vocational-Technical School, No. 1977-4483.
Mary E. Gavign, with her James L. Crawford, Donald A. Wallace and Larry J. Rappoport, for Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board.
Marlin B. Stephens, for Greater Johnstown Area Vocational-Technical School.
William K. Eckel, for Greater Johnstown Area Education Association.
Judges Crumlish, Jr., Rogers and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Rogers. Judge MacPhail dissents. This decision was reached prior to the expiration of the term of office of Judge DiSalle.
[ 48 Pa. Commw. Page 606]
We have consolidated cross appeals of the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board (Board), the Greater Johnstown Area Vocational-Technical Education Association (Association), and the Greater Johnstown Area Vocational-Technical School (School) from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Cambria County affirming in part and reversing in part an order of the Board which held that the School had committed unfair practices under Section 1201 of the Public Employe Relations Act, Act of July 23, 1970, P.L. 563, 43 P.S. § 1101.1201 (PERA). We affirm in part and reverse in part.
This dispute arose when three grievances were filed with the School by the Association. Two of these grievances questioned the propriety of the suspension of two professional employes; the third grievance questioned propriety of the School's decision to eliminate two academic positions. All three grievances alleged that the School's actions violated the "just cause provisions" contained in a collective bargaining agreement between the School and the Association, which provides:
[ 48 Pa. Commw. Page 607]
No Professional Employee shall be reduced in rank or compensation or derived [sic] of any professional advantage without just cause. Any such action asserted by the Joint Operating Committee, or any agent or representative thereof, shall be subject to the grievance procedure herein set forth.
The grievance procedure referred to in the "just cause" provision is set forth in the collective bargaining agreement and establishes a four-step process, culminating in binding arbitration. The three grievances were processed through the first three steps of the grievance procedure. The School, however, refused to submit these grievances to arbitration. The Association then filed a charge of Unfair Practice with the Board. At a hearing on these charges, the School contended that the grievances were invalid because they were not signed by the employes involved and that the grievances were within the sphere of managerial prerogative and thus not arbitrable. The Board issued a Nisi Decision and Order holding against the School, finding that, by refusing to proceed to arbitration, the School had committed unfair practices under Section 1201(a)(5) of PERA, 43 P.S. § 1101.1201(a)(5), and ordered the School to proceed to arbitration. See Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties v. Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board, 30 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 403, 373 A.2d 1175 (1977). The School filed timely exceptions to this order, alleging that the Board, by not requiring the employes involved to appear and testify before the Board, had deprived the School of its constitutional right to cross-examine these individuals. After oral argument on the School's exceptions, the Board issued a final order dismissing the exceptions and making final the Nisi order. The School then filed a petition to set aside the order in the court below. The lower court affirmed the
[ 48 Pa. Commw. Page 608]
Board with regard to the School's refusal to process the two grievances filed by the Association involving the suspension of the two professional employes, but reversed the Board as to the grievance concerning the elimination of two academic positions, finding this to be a managerial function and therefore ...