No. 3634 Philadelphia, 1982, Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County at No. 78-12717 Civil Division.
Alexander A. DiSanti, Media, for appellants.
Allen J. Gross, Philadelphia, for appellee.
Cirillo, Olszewski and Montgomery, JJ.
[ 343 Pa. Super. Page 138]
The instant appeal arises from an order by the lower court denying the Plaintiff-Appellants' petition for reconsideration
[ 343 Pa. Super. Page 139]
and affirming a previous order which sustained the Defendant-Appellee's exceptions and entered a judgment n.o.v. in its favor. The Appellants instituted this action asserting that the Appellee had breached their respective contracts of employment. After a non-jury trial resulted in a verdict for the Appellants, the lower court determined that it lacked subject-matter jurisdiction, and entered a judgment n.o.v. The Appellants contend that their action was properly before the court and seek an order for judgment on the original verdict.
The Appellee is the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, popularly known as AMTRAK. It recruited the Appellants as supervisors, lieutenants, and sergeants for its police force. The Appellants assert that when hired, they were offered permanent employment in their positions. AMTRAK maintains they were offered only temporary employment. The trial court found that the evidence supported the position of the Appellants on the issue of whether AMTRAK extended a promise of permanent jobs.
While that was the central issue to be resolved in proceedings in the lower court, the critical jurisdiction question presented on appeal requires an understanding of the pertinent factual and procedural background of the dispute. AMTRAK was a party to a collective bargaining agreement with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters [hereinafter IBT]. The agreement included a clause covering promotions to sergeants and lieutenants. Openings for such jobs were to be filled on the basis of seniority, by applicants from the IBT bargaining unit, who passed a promotional examination. Shortly after the Appellants began their employment, they were informed that their positions were subject to the promotional scheme of the aforementioned collective bargaining agreement. A sufficient number of patrolmen from the IBT bargaining unit, who were all hired before the Appellants, and who enjoyed higher seniority, passed the examination to fill all of the supervisory positions. The Appellants refused to take the examination, assertedly because they felt that they were
[ 343 Pa. Super. Page 140]
being treated unfairly. AMTRAK then determined that the Appellants were unable to retain their positions and notified them that they would be demoted.
The Appellants sought relief through various proceedings. They instituted an action in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to enjoin AMTRAK from giving the examination until the Appellants could challenge the IBT's status as bargaining representative. The National Mediation Board, the Federal administrative agency having jurisdiction over such disputes in the railroad industry, ordered an election. The AMTRAK police chose the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association [hereinafter PBA] as their representative, and the Federal District Court thereafter dissolved an injunction it had issued. Although the IBT was no longer the bargaining representative, the Appellants were nevertheless demoted.
The Appellants filed union contract grievances. AMTRAK denied their grievances and the PBA refused to appeal that denial any further in the contractual grievance procedure. After their grievances were denied, the Appellants filed Statements of Claim with the National Railroad Adjustment Board [hereinafter NRAB], another Federal administrative agency which handles railroad industry disputes. The Appellants' claims were denied; the NRAB ruled ...