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COMMISSIONERS SCHUYLKILL COUNTY v. AMERICAN FEDERATION STATE (08/27/81)

decided: August 27, 1981.

COMMISSIONERS OF SCHUYLKILL COUNTY, APPELLANTS
v.
AMERICAN FEDERATION OF STATE, COUNTY AND MUNICIPAL EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO, COUNCIL 13 AND DISTRICT COUNCIL 89, APPELLEES



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Schuylkill County in the case of Commissioners of Schuylkill County v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO, Council 13 and District Council 89, No. S-828, 1979.

COUNSEL

Alvin B. Marshall, Lipkin, Stutzman, Marshall & Bohorad, P.C., for appellants.

Theodore M. Lieverman, Kirschner, Walters & Willig, for appellees.

Judges Rogers, Williams, Jr. and Palladino, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Palladino.

Author: Palladino

[ 61 Pa. Commw. Page 450]

Appellants (Schuylkill "County Commissioners") appeal an order of the Court of Common Pleas of

[ 61 Pa. Commw. Page 451]

Schuylkill County which dismissed Appellants' petition to vacate, modify or correct an arbitrator's award in favor of Appellees ("Union" representing county employees working at "Rest Haven" County Home and Hospital). We affirm.

In accordance with the Public Employe Relations Act (PERA),*fn1 the County Commissioners and the Union negotiated a collective bargaining agreement (Agreement) effective from January 19, 1977, until December 31, 1979. Like the parties' prior collective bargaining contract, the Agreement did not include a plan for remunerating new employees during and after their probationary period.

In January of 1978, during the term of the Agreement, the County Commissioners unilaterally created a salary schedule to cover all Rest Haven employees hired on or after January 19, 1978. The Union subsequently filed a grievance pursuant to the Agreement. Unable to resolve their dispute, the parties submitted the problem to binding arbitration as the Agreement provided.

The arbitrator found that the unilateral promulgation of a salary schedule not only violated the nature and intent of the collective bargaining process but also contradicted the parties' actual practices which were incorporated into the Agreement. Consequently, the County Commissioners filed a petition to vacate, modify or correct the arbitrator's award. The court of common pleas examined the arbitrator's award and determined that the award drew its essence from the parties' Agreement. Therefore, the court dismissed the County Commissioners' petition.

[ 61 Pa. Commw. Page 452]

In arbitration cases our Court's*fn2 scope of review is delineated by Sections 10 and 11 of the Act of April 25, 1927 (Arbitration Act), P.L. 381, as amended, 5 P.S. ยงยง 170, 171,*fn3 construed in pari materia*fn4 with PERA.*fn5 Both the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania and the Commonwealth Court have recognized that the provisions of the Arbitration Act are compatible with the "essence test" expounded by the Supreme Court of the United States in United Steelworkers v. Enterprise Wheel and Car Corp., 363 U.S. 593 (1960).*fn6 "In Community ...


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