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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (02/16/82)

decided: February 16, 1982.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, PENNSYLVANIA LABOR RELATIONS BOARD, RESPONDENT. FRATERNAL ORDER OF POLICE ET AL., INTERVENORS. INTERNATIONAL UNION, UNITED PLANT GUARD WORKERS OF AMERICA, PETITIONER V. COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, PENNSYLVANIA LABOR RELATIONS BOARD, RESPONDENT. COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, INTERVENOR



Appeals from the Order of the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board in the case of In the Matter of the Employes of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (Capitol Police), Case No. PF-R-4-C.

COUNSEL

Debra K. Wallet, Assistant Attorney General, with her, John D. Raup, Assistant Attorney General, for petitioner, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

M. Glenn Jeakle, with him Michael H. Small, for petitioner, International Union, United Plant Guard Workers of America.

James L. Crawford, Assistant Attorney General, with him Anthony C. Busillo, II, Assistant Attorney General, for respondent, Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board.

Gary M. Lightman, Mancke & Lightman, for intervenor, Fraternal Order of Police et al.

President Judge Crumlish, Jr. and Judges Mencer, Blatt, Williams, Jr. and Craig. Opinion by President Judge Crumlish, Jr. Judge Palladino did not participate in the decision in this case.

Author: Crumlish

[ 64 Pa. Commw. Page 527]

This is a consolidated appeal of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (Commonwealth) and the International Union, United Plant Guard Workers of America (Union) from a Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board (Board) final order certifying the Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge No. 85 (FOP), as the exclusive bargaining representative of the Commonwealth Capitol Police.*fn1 We affirm in part and reverse in part.

[ 64 Pa. Commw. Page 528]

The FOP filed a representation petition pursuant to Act 111.*fn2 At that time, the Union was certified under the Public Employe Relations Act*fn3 (PERA or Act 195) as the exclusive collective bargaining representative of all Police Officers I and II and as the exclusive "meet and discuss" representative of all Police Officers III, some of which are Capitol Police. The Board denied the Union's motion to stay representation proceedings until the disposition of certain unfair practice charges.*fn4 After a Board determination that the employees are "policemen" under Act 111, the Capitol Police elected the FOP as its representative.

Our scope of review is limited to a determination of whether or not the Board's findings are supported by substantial and legally credible evidence, and whether or not its conclusions based on facts are reasonable and not capricious, illegal or arbitrary. Erie City Area Vocational-Technical School v. Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board, 52 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 388, 396, 417 A.2d 796, 798 (1980).

I

The Petitioners' threshold claim in both cases is that the Board has no authority to determine the employees' status as "policemen" under Act 111. Citing Hartshorn v. County of Allegheny, 9 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 132,

[ 64 Pa. Commw. Page 529304]

A.2d 716, aff'd, 460 Pa. 560, 333 A.2d 914 (1975),*fn5 they assert that only a court is authorized to make this determination. Hartshorn, however, clearly does not mandate such procedure. Rather, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that employees " need not seek an initial determination from the . . . Board as to whether they are policemen within the meaning of Act 111. . . ." 460 Pa. at 563, 333 A.2d at 915. (Emphasis added.) The correlative is that one may seek an initial administrative determination. Hartshorn indicates that the Board has concurrent jurisdiction with the Court to so act.

The Petitioners cite Philadelphia Fire Officers Association v. Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board, 470 Pa. 550, 369 A.2d 259 (1977), to buttress their claim.*fn6 Fire Officers, however, although limited to a holding that the Board has "jurisdiction . . . to conduct a representation election " under Act 111,*fn7 is distinguishable since the employees' status in Fire Officers was not at issue.*fn8

[ 64 Pa. Commw. Page 530]

A labor organization's right to represent an employee unit depends in part on its legal standing (i.e., whether it is a "labor organization" under the statute), which is initially addressed by the Board. Since the law strongly favors regularity of process, Fraternal Order of Police v. Shapp, 22 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 267, 271, 348 A.2d 502, 504 (1975), it is anomalous and policy-defeating to require a judicial declaration of the employees' status when the Board initially determines the labor organization's status.*fn9

We are guided by a policy of encouraging collective bargaining*fn10 and promoting orderly employment relationships,*fn11 and are required by PLRA, which is read in pari materia with Act 111, to construe the law liberally.*fn12 Therefore, to resolve these disputes with procedural and legal certainty, we hold that the Board has

[ 64 Pa. Commw. Page 531]

    jurisdiction concurrent with the Court to determine the ...


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