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COUNTY ALLEGHENY v. ALLEGHENY COURT ASSOCIATION PROFESSIONAL EMPLOYEES. ALLEGHENY COUNTY (07/02/82)

COMMONWEALTH COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA


decided: July 2, 1982.

COUNTY OF ALLEGHENY
v.
ALLEGHENY COURT ASSOCIATION OF PROFESSIONAL EMPLOYEES. ALLEGHENY COUNTY, APPELLANT. ALLEGHENY COURT ASSOCIATION OF PROFESSIONAL EMPLOYEES, APPELLANT V. COUNTY OF ALLEGHENY, APPELLEE

Appeals from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in case of County of Allegheny v. Allegheny County Association of Professional Employees, No. S.A. 642 of 1980.

COUNSEL

Thomas H. M. Hough, Assistant County Solicitor, with him James H. McLean, County Solicitor, for appellant, Allegheny County.

Sandra R. Kushner, with her Louis B. Kushner, Rothman, Gordon, Foreman and Groudine, P.A., for appellee, Allegheny Court Association of Professional Employees.

President Judge Crumlish and Judges Rogers, Blatt, Craig and MacPhail. Opinion by Judge Craig.

Author: Craig

[ 67 Pa. Commw. Page 278]

The County of Allegheny and the Allegheny Court Association of Professional Employees (ACAPE),*fn1 as cross-petitioners, question a decision by the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County which reviewed an arbitration award rendered under Section 805 of the Public Employee Relations Act (PERA).*fn2 In a concise but comprehensive opinion, Judge Stranahan upheld most of the non-fiscal provisions of the proposed collective bargaining agreement between the county commissioners and ACAPE, but he classed as void certain sections which he found to be violative of the court's exclusive right to hire, discharge and supervise court personnel, citing Ellenbogen v. County Page 279} of Allegheny, 479 Pa. 429, 388 A.2d 730 (1978). The judge also ordered a hearing to resolve the issue of whether the fiscal matters set forth in the arbitration award required legislative enactment by the commissioners to implement, thus rendering them advisory only under Section 805 of the PERA; he held that the burden of establishing that fact must rest with the commissioners, Franklin County Prison Board v. Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board, 491 Pa. 50, 417 A.2d 1138 (1980).

ACAPE challenges the court's decision to give the commissioners an opportunity to prove that the fiscal matters in the arbitration award required legislative enactment to implement, and disagrees with the judge's interpretation of Ellenbogen, prohibiting any outside limitation of the court's authority to hire, discharge and supervise employees in the bargaining unit.

The county, on the other hand, contends that it has demonstrated that the commissioners met, considered and duly rejected the award, but that several additional articles of the proposed contract should be held invalid because they affect the judges' exclusive authority over hiring, termination and supervision of employees.

Following a thorough review of the record and the authorities cited, we affirm on the basis of the able reasoning of Judge Stranahan in his opinion below, County of Allegheny v. Allegheny Court Association of Professional Employees, Pa. D. & C.3D (1982).

Judge Stranahan's decision to allow the hearing was equitable in the face of the commissioners' resolution, which had simply labeled the award as requiring legislative enactment. Judicial consideration of the commissioners' contentions is needed to resolve the issue.

[ 67 Pa. Commw. Page 280]

As to the Ellenbogen case, the Supreme Court clearly established a restriction upon the county officials' authority to act as managerial representatives for the judges, stemming from the necessity to prevent legislative interference "with judicial authority over court personnel, an essential element of the judicial function." 479 Pa. at 437, 388 A.2d at 734.

The sections which the County claims also infringe upon the judges' power to appoint, terminate and supervise its employees do not encompass those strictly limited but exclusive functions;*fn3 the four articles cited by the common pleas court are the only discretionary matters which directly affect the court's ability to administer

[ 67 Pa. Commw. Page 281]

    justice and guarantee independence.*fn4 Ellenbogen.

Accordingly, we affirm.

Order

Now, July 2, 1982, the order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, No. S.A. 642 of 1980, dated March 19, 1981, is affirmed.

Disposition

Affirmed.


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