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MATTER EMPLOYEES STUDENT SERVICES (07/10/81)

decided: July 10, 1981.

IN THE MATTER OF THE EMPLOYEES OF STUDENT SERVICES, INC., EDINBORO STATE COLLEGE, EDINBORO, PENNSYLVANIA. APPEAL OF RETAIL STORE EMPLOYEES UNION, LOCAL 880 (FORMERLY 1538) AT NO. 186. APPEAL OF PENNSYLVANIA LABOR RELATIONS BOARD AT NO. 187


Nos 80-1-186 and 80-1-187, Appeal from the Order of the Commonwealth Court, entered February 6, 1980, at No. 2146 C.D. 1977, reversing the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Erie County.

COUNSEL

Christopher Lepore, Cooper, Lepore & Dreeland, Pittsburgh, for appellant in No. 186.

James L. Crawford, Mary Teresa Gavigan, Asst. Attys. Gen., Pa. Labor Relations Board, Harrisburg, for appellant in No. 187.

Angelo P. Arduini, Shamp, Levin, Arduini & Hain, Erie, for Student Services.

Daniel W. Cooper, Cooper, Lepore & Dreeland, Pittsburgh, for Retail Clerks Local 1538.

Nix, Justice. Kauffman, J., filed a concurring opinion in which Flaherty, J., joined.

Author: Nix

[ 495 Pa. Page 44]

OPINION

The Retail Clerks' Union and the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board are appealing an order of the Commonwealth Court, 49 Pa. Commw. 220, 411 A.2d 569 which reversed an order of the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board certifying the Union as the bargaining representative of the employees of Student Services, Inc. located on the grounds of Edinboro State College. The Board's order was affirmed by the Court of Common Pleas of Erie County.

The important question before us is whether the Commonwealth Court correctly concluded that for a non-profit organization to come within Section 301(1) of the Public Employee Relations Act (PERA),*fn1 the non-profit organization must receive "grants or appropriations from local, State or Federal governments."

Student Services, Inc., the employer in the instant case, is a non-profit corporation organized under the laws of Pennsylvania with its only place of business at Edinboro State College. It operates exclusively for the college in providing services for students not offered by the college itself. Appellee-employer occupies buildings owned by the Commonwealth in which it conducts business ventures, including a book store, art store, bowling alley with pool tables and pinball machines, a duplicating service and vending machines. It also leases the food services in the student union to an outside concern. No rent is paid to the Commonwealth for the use of the facilities.

[ 495 Pa. Page 45]

A petition for representation was filed with the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board (Board) by the Retail Clerks International Association, Local 1538, AFL-CIO seeking to represent certain employees of Student Services, Inc. On May 19, 1975, the Board ordered pre-election conferences to be held on June 17, 1975.

The employer filed an appeal from the Board's pre-election conference order in the Court of Common Pleas of Erie County. A stay of all proceedings was granted by the Court of Common Pleas of Erie County which later dismissed the appeal. Following the pre-election conference, held on September 23, 1975, the Board issued an Order and Notice of Election setting forth the time and place for the election. Following the March 4, 1976 election the Board issued a nisi order certifying the Union as the exclusive bargaining representative. The employer's exceptions to the certification were dismissed by the Board in a final order dated August 5, 1976.

Under the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Act (PLRA) which was passed in 1937,*fn2 this Court, after studying the findings and policy under 43 P.S. § 211.1, concluded that the legislature intended the provisions of the Act to apply exclusively to industrial disputes. Salvation Army Case, 349 Pa. 105, 36 A.2d 479 (1944). In reaching that conclusion, the Court did not give significance to § 211.3(c)*fn3 which did not exclude non-profit employers. Also, § 211.3(d)*fn4 did not

[ 495 Pa. Page 46]

    exclude as a group non-profit employees. The Court, applying Section 211.2, Findings and Policy, said, "The phrases: 'within and between industries', 'sweat shops,' 'production and consumption,' 'business depressions' and 'industrial strife and unrest' certainly do not relate to charitable or eleemosynary associations." Salvation Army Case, supra, 349 Pa. at 110, 36 A.2d at 481. Yet the Court was emphatic that it did ". . . not mean to decide or imply that whenever a non-profit organization does enter an industrial field, even though its profits may be devoted to charity, it is exempted from the taxes and regulations such as the Labor Relations Act to which any other industry or business is subjected." Id., 349 Pa. at 110, 36 A.2d at 481.

Subsequent decisions, while finding the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Act inapplicable to certain non-profit employers, varied the criteria for determining whether a non-profit employer is subject to the PLRA and decided the issue of PLRA applicability on a case-by-case basis. In Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board v. Mid-Valley Hospital, 385 Pa. 344, 124 A.2d 108 (1956) a controversy regarding the discharge of an employee of a non-profit charitable hospital was held not to be a labor dispute under the PLRA, citing Salvation Army Case as holding "the Act related exclusively to industrial disputes and not to non-profit, charitable organizations."*fn5 However, in Pennsylvania Relations v. Overbrook Golf Club, 385 Pa. 358, 123 A.2d 698 (1956) this Court broadened the criteria used in ...


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