No. 6 M.D. Appeal Docket 1982, Appeal from the Order of the Commonwealth Court, dated February 3, 1982, No. 2214 C.D. 1977,
Roberts, C.j., and Nix, Larsen, Flaherty, McDermott, Hutchinson and Zappala, JJ.
This is an appeal from the order of the Commonwealth Court, 64 Pa. Commw. 387, 440 A.2d 1264, which dismissed appellants' petition for review, in the nature of an action in mandamus, on the basis of the equitable defense of laches.
Appellants are administrative faculty members of various state colleges and one university in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.*fn1 As administrative faculty members, appellants perform primarily administrative functions and possess titles such as inter alia: college registrar, director of financial aid, and dean of men/women. In contrast, academic faculty members perform primarily traditional teaching functions.
Prior to June 13, 1974, academic faculty members and administrative faculty members were eligible for and promoted to the maximum faculty ranks specified in the Act of July 30, 1963, P.L. 329, No. 182 § 1, 24 P.S. § 1864.2 (Act 182).*fn2 In the early 1970's, the Commonwealth became dissatisfied with the system for compensating and promoting state college administrators based upon their academic credentials believing that the disparity was not justified where the individuals, regardless of their academic attainments, were performing identical tasks.
The Commonwealth created a committee to study and evaluate the classification and compensation of administrative positions at the state colleges. As a result of the committee's work, non-faculty administrative class titles and
corresponding pay schedules were created by the Commonwealth for the state colleges. The new class titles and compensation reflected the functions of the administrative jobs performed rather than being based solely upon academic credentials. This new "rank ceiling" policy*fn3 was implemented by the Commonwealth, Department of Education, on June 13, 1974. Academic faculty members continued to be eligible for and promoted to the maximum ranks specified in Act 182. The rank ceilings have had the effect of holding administrative faculty members at lower pay classifications than academic faculty members of equal seniority and educational qualification.
Appellants are members of the collective bargaining unit consisting of all the administrative faculty of the thirteen state colleges and Indiana University. The Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF) is the exclusive bargaining agent for this administrative faculty unit. APSCUF filed two grievances pursuant to the collective bargaining agreement challenging the Commonwealth's rank ceiling policy as violative of Act 182. In the first grievance, decided January 8, 1977, the arbitrator held that the rank ceiling policy was not reviewable under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement and denied the grievance. The second grievance was denied on August 15, 1979 for substantially the same reasons.
On November 18, 1977, a petition for review, in the nature of an action in mandamus, the subject of the instant appeal,
was filed in the Commonwealth Court.*fn4 The Secretary of Education, by way of new matter in its answer, pled inter alia the affirmative defense of laches. The ...