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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. CLARION COUNTY (03/04/82)

COMMONWEALTH COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA


decided: March 4, 1982.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, PENNSYLVANIA LABOR RELATIONS BOARD, APPELLANT
v.
CLARION COUNTY, APPELLEE. CLARION COUNTY V. COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, PENNSYLVANIA LABOR RELATIONS BOARD. DISTRICT COUNCIL 85, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF STATE, COUNTY AND MUNICIPAL EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO, APPELLANT

Appeals from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Clarion County in the case of Clarion County v. Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board, No. 703-1979.

COUNSEL

Anthony C. Busillo, III, with him James L. Crawford, for appellant, Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board.

Alex E. Echard, for Appellee, Clarion County.

Jonathan K. Walters, with him Theodore H. Lieverman and Alaine S. Williams, Kirschner, Walters & Willig, for intervenor-appellant.

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

Author: Crumlish

[ 65 Pa. Commw. Page 160]

The Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board (PLRB) appeals a Clarion County Common Pleas Court decision which reversed the PLRB's finding that Clarion County had committed unfair labor practices under the Public Employe Relations Act (PERA).*fn1 We reverse.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO of Franklin County (AFSCME), is the exclusive representative of the Clarion County prison guards. When Clarion County, the public employer, and AFSCME reached an impasse in the collective bargaining process, the impasse was submitted to a panel of arbitrators. The panel issued its arbitration award which was then submitted to the Clarion County Salary Board*fn2 for implementation. The Board failed to implement the total agreement, deleting or altering some of the provisions of the award.

AFSCME filed a charge of unfair labor practices alleging that Clarion County had failed to implement

[ 65 Pa. Commw. Page 161]

    the award pursuant to Section 805 of PERA.*fn3 Section 805 reads:

Notwithstanding any other provisions of this act where representatives of units of guards at prisons or mental hospitals or units of employes directly involved with and necessary to the functioning of the courts of this Commonwealth have reached an impasse in collective bargaining and mediation as required in section 801 of this article has not resolved the dispute, the impasse shall be submitted to a panel of arbitrators whose decision shall be final and binding upon both parties with the proviso that the decisions of the arbitrators which would require legislative enactment to be effective shall be considered advisory only. (Emphasis added.)

Under Section 1620 of the County Code,*fn4 the Salary Board simply has the authority to "fix" salaries. Clarion County asserts, however, that because its Salary Board is composed of three County Commissioners and the County Treasurer, the action of the Salary Board was a "legislative enactment" which made the proviso of Section 805 operative and made the arbitration award only advisory. The Clarion County Common Pleas Court agreed, holding that:

The record is clear that the Clarion County Salary Board implemented the award within the limits of the legislative policies of the Clarion County Commissioners, who sat as majority members of the salary board and sole members of the prison board in considering each and every item of the award regardless of

[ 65 Pa. Commw. Page 162]

    any purported distinction between salaries and compensation and so-called 'non-financial'*fn5 items. It would be the classic demonstration of the judicial process as an exercise in redundant futility to have the Clarion County Salary Board make a 'paper implementation' of each item of the award, and then have the Commissioners, the law-making body, to once more convene, reconsider and reject the arbitration award because of the constitutional limitation in the proviso of Section 805 being advisory only.

However, our Supreme Court in Franklin County Prison Board v. Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board, 491 Pa. 50, 417 A.2d 1138 (1980), has made it clear that, redundant or not, the Salary Board is required under the law of our Commonwealth to implement the award.*fn6

The import of Franklin County is clear and controls this case. The Supreme Court stated: "The issue

[ 65 Pa. Commw. Page 163]

    becomes 'Is the authority of county salary boards to "fix salaries and compensation" equivalent to a "require[d] legislative enactment," such that any section 805 arbitration award involving or affecting salaries and compensation is automatically deemed advisory?' We think not." Id. at 58, 417 A.2d at 1142. (Emphasis in original.)

The Salary Board is in fact statutory County Commissioners but, as dictated by statute, they wear different hats when executing their duties as Salary Board members.*fn7 Their duties are administerial only and its action is not legislative enactment.

Our scope of review is limited to determining whether or not the Board's conclusions were reasonable or arbitrary, capricious or illegal. Western Psychiatric Institute v. Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board, 16 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 275, 330 A.2d 262 (1974). The PLRB in its discussion stated:

In our opinion, the Salary Board is not a legislative body whose action is required to implement a Section 805 arbitration award but rather is duty bound to act in conformity with that award. Since the record does not show that any legislative action by the county commissioners may be required to implement the instant award we must find the Respondent acted in violation of the Act. . . .

Thus, until there is evidence that the County Commissioners, acting in their legislative capacities, have met, considered and rejected the award, thus making it

[ 65 Pa. Commw. Page 164]

    simply advisory under Section 805, the Salary Board is duty bound to implement the award. Franklin County at 62, 417 A.2d at 1144.

The decision of the PLRB is supported by substantial evidence and is controlled by our Supreme Court's holding in Franklin County. Accordingly, we reverse.

Order

The decision of the Clarion County Common Pleas Court, No. 703-1979, dated October 28, 1980, is reversed and the Final Order of the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board, No. PERA-C-10, 455-W, dated July 17, 1979 is reinstated.

Judge Palladino did not participate in the decision in this case.

Disposition

Reversed. Board order reinstated.


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