Appeals from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County in the case of Colie B. Chappelle v. Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board, No. 125 September Term, 1975.
Anthony C. Busillo, II, with him James L. Crawford and Mary Teresa Gavigan, for appellant, Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board.
Colie B. Chappelle, appellee, for himself.
Francis J. Connell, III, Drinker, Biddle & Reath, for intervenor, Defender Association of Philadelphia.
Judges Williams, Jr., MacPhail and Palladino, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Williams, Jr. Judge Palladino did not participate in the decision in this case.
This is an appeal from a decision of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County. The court concluded that the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board (Board) lacked jurisdiction to hear and determine appellant Colie B. Chappelle's charges of unfair labor practices, and accordingly dismissed the action.
Chappelle was formerly employed as a staff attorney by the appellee, Defender Association of the City of Philadelphia (Defender Association). Appellant filed a complaint with the Board wherein he alleged that the Defender Association had discharged him for engaging in union activities in violation of Section 1201 of the Public Employe Relations Act (PERA).*fn1
Following a hearing, the Board entered a Nisi Decision and Order, finding that it had jurisdiction over the Defender Association, but that the charges of unfair labor practices were unsubstantiated. Both parties
filed exceptions to the Nisi Decision and Order, which exceptions were dismissed by a final order entered by the Board on July 31, 1975.
A petition for review of the Board's final order was filed in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County. On May 8, 1979 that court entered an order and opinion dismissing Chappelle's action, finding that the Board lacked jurisdiction because the Defender Association was not a public employer within the meaning of the PERA. Both Chappelle and the Board have appealed to this court.
The Defender Association is a nonprofit organization which provides legal representation to indigent criminal defendants. Prior to 1969, it was a private charitable organization which derived its funds solely from membership dues and contributions. In 1969, the City of Philadelphia, in order to fulfill its constitutional duty to provide legal representation to indigent criminal defendants,*fn2 entered into a contract with appellee for the purchase of legal services. Since that date, ninety percent (90%) of the Defender Association's annual budget has been funded by the City ...