Appeal from the Order of the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board in the case of In the Matter of The Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, No. PERAC-11, 810-C.
John D. Raup, Assistant Attorney General, and Harvey Bartle, III, Attorney General, for petitioner.
James L. Crawford, Chief Counsel, for respondent.
Jerome H. Gerber, with him Elliot A. Strokoff, Handler and Gerber, P.C., for intervenors.
President Judge Crumlish and Judges Rogers, Blatt, Williams, Jr. and Craig. Opinion by Judge Blatt. This decision was reached prior to the expiration of the term of office of Judge Palladino.
The Commonwealth, the petitioner herein, challenges a decision of the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board (Board) which found that the Commonwealth had committed unfair labor practices in its dealings with the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF).
The Commonwealth and APSCUF were parties to a collective bargaining agreement which provided for annual renegotiation of salary increases for faculty members and such negotiations were commenced in September of 1977 for the 1977-78 school year. During the course of the negotiations, the Commonwealth consistently maintained that any negotiated salary increases could not be funded from the General Appropriations Act of 1977, Act of August 20, 1977, P.L. 411 (Act 11-A), and that any such increases could not be implemented without further legislative action. The negotiations reached an impasse and the dispute was referred to an arbitration panel which rendered its award on March 24, 1978, granting a 4.5% salary increase to the faculty members, retroactively effective from August 31, 1977. On April 13, 1978, the Budget Secretary of the Commonwealth wrote letters to the chairmen of the Appropriations Committees of both houses of the General Assembly, informing them of the contents of the arbitration award and of the Commonwealth's position that Act 11-A prohibited implementation
of the award. Sometime subsequent to the date of the arbitration award APSCUF was told by the Secretary of Education and the Commissioner of Higher Education that they would attempt to have the arbitration award implemented, but on May 30, 1978 the Secretary of Education notified APSCUF that the Commonwealth would not comply with the salary increases required by the award. The Commonwealth implemented the increases in July of 1978 for the 1978-79 school year but refused to pay the increases for 1977-78 and APSCUF, on September 21, 1978, filed with the Board an unfair labor practice charge against the Commonwealth. The Board found that the Commonwealth violated Sections 1201(a)(1) and (5) of the Public Employe Relations Act (PERA), Act of July 23, 1970, P.L. 563, 43 P.S. §§ 1101.1201(a)(1) and (5), and ordered the Commonwealth to submit legislation implementing the salary increase to the General Assembly which was then to make an "appropriate legislative response" requiring at least a formal vote of the Appropriations Committee. This petition for review followed.
The Commonwealth first argues that the September 21, 1978 filing of APSCUF's unfair labor practice charge was not within the four-month statute of limitations contained in Section 1505 of PERA, 43 P.S. § 1101.1505, because APSCUF knew during the course of the salary negotiations in September of 1977, as well as during the subsequent arbitration and finally by way of the April 13, 1978 Commonwealth letters to the General Assembly, that the Commonwealth did not intend to grant the salary increases concerned here.
We must dismiss this contention. The Board found that APSCUF had been given assurances by the Secretary of Education that the Commonwealth would attempt to ...