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decided: June 10, 1986.


Appeal from the Order of the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board in the case of In the Matter of the Employes of Chartiers Township, Case No. PF-R-84-44-W.


James P. Liekar, Liekar and Liekar, for petitioner.

Patricia J. Goldband, with her, James L. Crawford, for respondent.

Judges Craig and Colins, and Senior Judge Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig. Judge Colins dissents.

Author: Craig

[ 98 Pa. Commw. Page 45]

The Township of Chartiers (township) appeals from an order of the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board (PLRB) holding that the township's police chief and sergeants are not managerial employees within the meaning of the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Act (PLRA), the Act of June 1, 1937, P.L. 1168, as amended, 43 P.S. § 211.1 and the Act of June 24, 1968, P.L. 237, 43 P.S. § 217.1 (Act 111), and therefore are included in the bargaining unit.

The Chartiers Township Police Department Wage and Policy Unit (union) had filed an investigation and certification of representatives petition with the PLRB, seeking to represent a bargaining unit comprised of

[ 98 Pa. Commw. Page 46]

    eight part-time police officers, two full-time police officers, and one police chief. After a hearing, the hearing examiner determined that none of the police officers are managerial employees.

Thereafter, a PLRB representative conducted a representation election and found the union to be the exclusive bargaining representative of all the police officers of the township. The township filed exceptions to the PLRB representative's order, which affirmed the hearing examiner's decision that the police chief and sergeants are not managerial employees. The PLRB dismissed the township's exceptions, and affirmed the PLRB representative's order. This appeal followed.

The issues before us are whether, as a matter of law, the PLRB adopted the proper rule in determining the existence of managerial status, and whether, as a matter of fact, reached findings supported by substantial evidence.

Act 111, the statute which grants to police and fire officers the right to bargain collectively, provides no guidance for determining what criteria establish managerial status because the Act does not define that term.*fn1 However, the Public Employe Relations Act (PERA)*fn2 does contain a definition of "management level

[ 98 Pa. Commw. Page 47]

    employe." Although our Supreme Court in Chirico v. Board of Supervisors for Newtown Township, 504 Pa. 71, 470 A.2d 470 (1983), declared that Act 111 was not to be read in pari materia with the PERA because the PERA expressly excludes police and fire officers from its coverage, nevertheless judicial consideration can benefit from the definition of managerial employee contained in the PERA, which the legislature applied to a different category of public employees. Section 301(16) of the PERA defines managerial employee as follows:

'Management level employe' means any individual who is involved directly in the determination of policy or who responsibly directs the implementation thereof and shall include all employes above the first level of supervision.

43 P.S. § 1101.301(16).*fn3

The PLRB's categorization of a particular position, as managerial or supervisory, is essentially a finding of fact, and the courts will defer to the PLRB's experience and specialized expertise in such factual matters. On the other hand, the principles which the board follows, in reaching such determinations, are rules of law by their very nature. The courts will nevertheless extend deference to the PLRB's legal principles which define what is "managerial" and what is "supervisory". However, the courts are entitled to expect reasonable consistency in the PLRB's formulation and application of the guidelines which classify positions as included or not included in a bargaining unit.

A thorough review of the PLRB's decisions, in police department cases, indicates that, even though discussions in PLRB opinions (dicta) have varied widely in

[ 98 Pa. Commw. Page 48]

    the characterization of specific functions as managerial or supervisory, the PLRB's holdings as to certain positions possessing various functions have been largely consistent. An analysis of PLRB decisions in this subject matter area follows.

Functions Associated With Positions Held to be Managerial

In most cases, the PLRB has treated positions with the following functions as managerial; that is, the PLRB has classified the position as managerial when the named function is affirmatively among the powers of the position, and has rated the position as merely supervisory when the function is absent from those powers:

Policy Formulation -- authority to initiate departmental policies, including the power to issue general ...

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