No. 85 E.D. Appeal Dkt. 1984, Appeal from the Order of the Commonwealth Court dated December 16, 1983, entered at No. 3349 C.D. 1982, reversing the Order of the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board dated December 15, 1982, entered at Case Nos. PF-C-82-9-E and PERA-C-82-123-E, Pa. Commw. ,
Nix, C.j., and Larsen, Flaherty, McDermott, Hutchinson, Zappala and Papadakos, JJ.
The issue in this appeal*fn1 is whether a borough council member who belongs to the same union as the borough's public employees and has participated as representative of the borough in negotiating collective bargaining agreements between the borough and those employees is precluded from voting on the ratification of agreements pursuant to the Public Employe Relations Act ("PERA"), Act of July
, 1970, P.L. 563, No. 195, as amended, 43 P.S. §§ 1101.101-1101.2301 (Supp. 1984-85) and Act 111, Act of June 24, 1968, P.L. 237, No. 111, as amended, 43 P.S. §§ 217.1-217.10 (Supp. 1984-85). The Commonwealth Court, reversing the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board ("Board"), concluded that the council member's participation in the ratification proceedings was improper and declared the agreements invalid. For the reasons which follow we reverse the Commonwealth Court and reinstate the Board's order.
McAdoo Borough ("Borough") and Teamsters Local Union No. 401 ("Local 401"), which represented both the Borough's nonprofessional employees and its full-time and regular part-time police officers, entered into one-year collective bargaining agreements as to both units on January 1, 1982.*fn2 The Borough had been represented during negotiations by a committee consisting of the president, vice-president and two members of the Borough Council. One of the council members participating in the negotiations on behalf of the Borough was Hubert Hartz, a member of Local 401. Mr. Hartz was not a public employee but rather worked for the Consolidated Cigar Corporation in McAdoo. The agreements were ratified by the same council members who participated in the negotiations; the remaining three members of the seven-member council were noted as absent.
Notwithstanding its apparent ratification of the collective bargaining agreements, however, the Borough refused to implement the wage or hospitalization provisions of either agreement or the seniority provisions of the agreement with the police officers. In response Local 401 filed unfair labor practice charges with the Board against the Borough with
respect to both agreements. The Board subsequently issued complaints against the Borough and consolidated the charges for hearing before a hearing examiner. After a hearing the examiner issued a preliminary order and decision holding that the Borough had committed unfair labor practices under section 1201(a)(1) and (5) of PERA, 43 P.S. § 1101.1201(a)(1), (5) (Supp. 1984-85) and section 6(1)(e) of the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Act ("PLRA"), Act of June 1, 1937, P.L. 1168, No. 294, § 6(1)(e), 43 P.S. § 211.6(1)(e) (1964). After the Borough's exceptions had been dismissed the proposed order and decision was made final and absolute by order of the Board. The Borough appealed that order to the Commonwealth Court, which reversed the Board's decision.*fn3 McAdoo Borough v. Commonwealth, Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board, 79 Pa. Commw. 158, 469 A.2d 693 (1983). This Court granted the Board's petition for allowance of appeal.
Before reaching the merits of the instant conflict of interest issues we must address the Board's contention that the Borough is estopped to raise those issues by virtue of its failure to directly challenge the validity of the ratification of the collective bargaining agreements. The Board maintains that the Borough should not be permitted to assert the invalidity of the agreements as a defense to unfair labor practice charges because the Borough Council ratified the agreements even though "members" of the council knew at that time that Councilman Hartz was a member of Local 401.*fn4 ...