Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Cambria County in case of Richland School District v. Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board, No. 1980-2244.
Ralph F. Kraft, for appellant.
James L. Crawford, with him Anthony C. Busillo, II, for appellee.
William Fearen, with him Michael I. Levin, Cleckner and Fearen, for Amicus Curiae, Pennsylvania School Boards Association.
Judges Rogers, Blatt and Craig, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Rogers.
Richland School District seeks review of an order of the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board (PLRB) requiring it to bargain collectively with the Richland School Service Personnel Association (new union),
the exclusive representative of a unit of the district's nonprofessional employees. The question presented is that of whether a public employer may lawfully refuse to bargain with a newly certified union after the employer and a predecessor union have entered into a collective bargaining agreement covering the period of time concerning which new negotiations are requested.
The facts, contained in a stipulation of the parties, are as follows. In 1970 the Richland Service Employees Association (old union) was certified by the PLRB as the representative of a unit of the school district's workers including maintenance employees, custodians, matrons, cooks and secretaries. A series of collective bargaining agreements were thereafter negotiated by the old union and the district with the penultimate agreement expiring on June 30, 1979. On January 10, 1979 the old union and the district began negotiations which culminated in March in a two-year agreement intended to govern the terms and conditions of employment of members of the bargaining unit for the period between July 1, 1979, and June 30, 1981. This agreement was ratified first by the old union on March 14, 1979, and was then ratified by the district and executed by both parties on April 18, 1979. Meanwhile, on April 12, 1979, the new union filed a Representation Petition with the PLRB and, following notice sent to the district on April 19, 1979, and the execution by the district and the new union of a pre-election Memorandum of Agreement, a representation election was conducted on June 11, 1979, at which time sixty-three of the seventy members of the bargaining unit cast ballots and forty of the ballots cast indicated a preference to be represented for purposes of collective bargaining by the new union. Certification by the PLRB followed.
By letter dated June 27, 1979, Mr. Robert F. Ward, regional field director for the new union's statewide affiliate, notified the district that the membership of the new union had, on June 21, 1979, "overwhelmingly rejected the tentative agreement reached between the [old union] and the district prior to the election. . . ." Mr. Ward then requested, on behalf of the new union, the setting of "a date in early July to commence negotiations of a successor contract to that which expires on June 30, 1979."
The school district's response, by its counsel, to the request for negotiations is, in its entirety, as follows: