Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lancaster County in the case of Amalgamated Transit Union, Division 1241, by and through its President and Trustee ad Litem, Jay R. Meyers v. Red Rose Transit Authority, No. 274 July Term, 1980.
Joseph J. Pass, Jr., Jubelirer, Pass & Intrieri, P.C., for appellant.
Susan R. Friedman, with her Stephen J. Weglarz, Weglarz, Tryon & Friedman and Michael J. Rostolsky, for appellee.
Judges Rogers, Williams, Jr. and Palladino, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Williams, Jr.
[ 61 Pa. Commw. Page 217]
Amalgamated Transit Union, Division 1241 (Union) appeals to this Court to reverse the decision of the Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas, which dismissed the action in mandamus filed by the Union against the Red Rose Transit Authority (Management). The dismissal resulted from an order sustaining preliminary objections to jurisdiction in Common Pleas Court, filed by Management.
[ 61 Pa. Commw. Page 218]
The factual development of the case is uncomplicated. When negotiations between the parties concerning certain sections of the collective bargaining agreement broke down, the Union directed a letter to Management requesting binding arbitration pursuant to the provisions of the Act of November 27, 1967, P.L. 628, 53 P.S. § 39951 (Transportation Act), under which Management, a public transit authority, is organized. Management refused to participate in the arbitration process, making its position clear in writing. Shortly after receiving the letter from Management, the Union filed a complaint in mandamus in the Court of Common Pleas, praying that the court order Management to comply with the terms of the statute.
Management filed preliminary objections to the complaint, alleging that the Union members are public employes within the ambit of the Public Employe Relations Act (PERA), Act of July 23, 1970, P.L. 563, No. 195, 43 P.S. § 1101.101 et seq. Because of this, Management contends, the court does not have jurisdiction, since Section 1301 of the PERA, 43 P.S. § 1101.1301, gives the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board (PLRB) the exclusive power to prevent the performance of an unfair labor practice, and failure to arbitrate is an unfair labor practice under the PERA. Alternatively, Management demurred to the complaint, arguing that the PLRB has concurrent jurisdiction over the alleged unfair labor practice, and therefore, since Union has an adequate remedy in the administrative process, mandamus will not lie.
The lower court held that it did not have jurisdiction, reasoning, in concert with Management, that the failure to submit the disagreement to binding arbitration is an unfair labor practice under Section 803 of the PERA, 43 P.S. § 1101.803, and therefore under the exclusive jurisdiction of the PLRB.
[ 61 Pa. Commw. Page 219]
Union appealed that determination to this Court,*fn1 contending that the refusal to arbitrate is not an unfair labor practice under the PERA, and is therefore governed by the language of the Transportation Act. Additionally, Union points to Division 85 of the Amalgamated Transit Union v. Port Authority of Allegheny County, 417 Pa. 299, 208 A.2d 271 (1965) (Division 85), in which the Pennsylvania Supreme Court interpreted language identical to that of the Transportation Act as requiring Management to submit the dispute to arbitration.
In Port Authority of Allegheny County v. Division 85 Amalgamated Transit Union, 34 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 71, 383 A.2d 954 (1978) (Port Authority), this Court construed language*fn2 which mirrors that presently before us as a mandate to the employer to offer to submit to arbitration in the event of a collective bargaining impasse. Citing Division 85, supra, we declared that although Management was required to make the said offer, union did not have to ...